An abyss is dark and bottomless. It’s a mysterious place where it’s easy to get lost in nostalgia and deep thoughts. The new record shop on the corner of Locke Street South and Canada Street is just that, but with white walls and friendly faces that will greet you with open arms.
After two years of thinking about opening a record shop, Brad Germain and his wife, Jenni Germain, softly opened Into the Abyss during the Locke Street Festival earlier in September.
Their passion for music and desire to do things their own way while still having fun, drove the couple to open up their own shop.
Brad, who can easily be recognized by record-shopping regulars, worked at Cheapies, the oldest record shop in Hamilton, for 18 years.
“It was a great learning experience… I’ll be forever grateful to the owner at Cheapies for teaching me so much of the business and how to do it… But I think you get to a point in your life when you just want to do your own thing,” said Brad.
Brad’s life revolves around music. He loves listening to records and talking to his customers about different kinds of music.
It’s something others can share with him, so that he can learn about their cultures and experiences, in turn, others can learn about him and his interests.
“In divisive times, any chance that you have to bridge the gap in communication and the gap in understanding between people, you really have to try and take it… That’s why I’m so passionate about music. I can see how important it is… It’s a joyous thing to be able to do. It’s a great way to bring people together,” explained Brad.
Into the Abyss’ selection reflects the message of bringing people together.
The Germains ensure their selection is unique by putting records in their store that have never sold before in the city and focusing on music that is under represented in Hamilton.
While music-lovers can still find popular and sought-out vintage records on the shelves, Into the Abyss also encourages customers to introduce themselves to music beyond Western rock.
Customers can explore records from places like Latin America and Africa, whole also being able to pick up ambient and avant-garde records from the likes of Brain Eno and William Basinski.
Into the Abyss is not only a place for music lovers, the space also includes a selection of vintage clothing and trendy Into the Abyss merchandise. Jenni is currently working on designing and manufacturing her own clothing, which will soon hit the shop’s shelves.
A friend of the Germains is also designing tie-dye shirts, hoodies and adult onesies. And the work of other artist friends, such as Sarah Froese, who handcrafts printed matter using an antique press, will also be sold.
“You can mix up the experience, it’s for music fans but it’s also for friends of music fans,” said Brad.
Into the Abyss also aims to be a place Hamiltonians and especially young people, can feel comfortable in.
Brad believes that record stores are a place to make new friends, while also being the kind of place people can get lost in and feed their imagination and sense of wonder.
As for the strange name, Brad chose “Into the Abyss” for many reasons: its uniqueness, its reference to the philosopher Nietzsche, but mostly because it reflects his experience opening up his own shop.
“When you are going out on a limb and going into business for yourself, it really is like going into the unknown, ‘into the abyss’… you are going into a territory that you’ve never been into before and it can be scary and daunting,” explained Brad.
Despite the process being a little scary and the pressure of a profit-driven industry, Brad and Jenni Germain will continue to stay true to themselves, do what they love and run Into the Abyss with a genuine passion for sharing music with others.
Into the Abyss is located on 119 Locke Street South and will be offering a 10 per cent discount to students with a valid McMaster ID on Tuesdays.