Northeast Minneapolis was a record store desert in 2016.
Michelle Obama never chose to fight that particular urban malady, instead focusing her efforts on the inarguably more troublesome food deserts. Who, then, would combat the area's vinyl deficiencies? Raoul Benavides would. He opened Flashlight Vinyl at 1519 Central Ave. NE that same year, thus giving Northeast its only dedicated record shop.
Until October 31. That's when Flashlight will go dark forever, according to a Facebook post from Benavides.
"Gratitude is all a person can have at this point," the shop owner wrote Monday. "It was my honor to serve northeast Minneapolis with music. After three years, We are closing our doors. So many great people, new friends, and stories came to visit and share their love of vinyl."
Halloween will be Flashlight's final day in business, and you bet there'll be a (solemnly) spooktacular liquidation sale. Vinyl prices get slashed 25 percent beginning October 15, Benavides writes; all vinyl will be half-off thereafter.
City Pages always had a soft spot for Flashlight Vinyl. That's why we named it the Best Place to Buy Vinyl earlier this year. The shop also claimed a spot on our definitive 10 Best Twin Cities Record Stores list from 2016.
It was easy to heap praise on Benavides, whose democratic view of the sometimes snob-riddled world of record buying earned him a place in our 2018 People Issue.
"I have kids come into the store that want to buy a new record, and I’m like, 'You can buy it, but why not buy 10 $3 records that you don’t know anything about, just based off the cover. You’ll have more fun,'" Benavides told us. "Record collecting doesn’t have to be this fancy, bougie thing meant for other people. I want it to be for everybody. Music is the connector. You can be from all different walks of life, and everybody knows the first couple licks of a Johnny Cash song. It’s a thing that connects people."