True Vine is relocating to Station North

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Photo by Brandon Weigel.

True Vine Record Shop is moving to a N. Charles Street space in Station North following the last day of business at its Hampden location.

The move comes after a dispute with the nearby Golden West Cafe. The restaurant bought the lease to True Vine’s Hickory Avenue building with an eye toward helping the financially struggling record store by combining ventures, but the parties could not agree on a vision for the concept and the agreement fell apart.

With True Vine in need of a new home, Golden West offered to cover the last two months of the record store’s rent, buy plastic bins for the records and provide storage space, proprietor Samantha Claassen wrote in an email last week.

True Vine has to be out by Feb. 1, owner Jason Willett said. He and volunteers are working to move everything to a building in Station North while the store’s new home at 1827 N. Charles St. is cleared out.

Preparing the space should take four to six weeks, meaning True Vine may be up and running again by mid-March or April, he said. He’s looking to bring new life to the block, which has the Mercury Theater and gaming space No Land Beyond, but has several vacancies and also suffered the closure of BAMF Cafe last summer.

“It’s exciting to me that we’re going to go to a different place and become a beacon for changing that area for the better,” he said.

Following a search, True Vine had a tentative agreement to remain in Hampden, moving across Hickory Avenue to a building in the rear of Grano Pasta Bar, but that fell through. Even so, Willett said this new building is the best possible outcome.

The layout will be only a little larger than the main room in the old Hampden storefront, but Willett said customers can still expect crates of obscure genres and titles–a hallmark of the True Vine in its 15-year existence that has earned the store praise from national music outlets.

“There will still be plenty of question mark things to find here–anomalies, I like to call them,” he said.

As for the drama that unfolded between True Vine and Golden West on social media, Willett said he is beyond that, noting that he called for more peaceful interactions on Instagram after supporters lashed out.

“I’m excited about the future. I’ve let go of the past.”

But in the same conversation, he did add–not specific to Golden West–that investor money has become pervasive in Hampden, bringing changes that are, in his view, not for the better.

“There’s no frontier to Hampden,” he said. “Everything feels bloated and constipated, to me.”

Golden West falls under the category of area businesses with new investment. Vyomeschandra “Vick” Patel bought a stake in the business, and Golden West has announced plans to expand the footprint of its W. 36th Street space, open a vegan bakery and add additional locations.

In an email last week, Claasen wrote: “It’s easy to believe the worst about people. And to get worked up about things we read on the internet. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. The truth is that I still want Jason to succeed. I respect his decision to stay independent and have done everything in my power to assist him in this.”

Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore Business Journal, b and others. Prior to joining Baltimore Fishbowl, he was an editor at City Paper from 2012 to 2017. He can be reached at [email protected]
Brandon Weigel


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3 COMMENTS

  1. I’m Jason Willett’s wife, Kirsten Willett Rook. I’m a founding member and instructor at the Baltimore Jewelry Center. Thank you for acknowledging our beaconing. I’m happy to see other creative independent businesses joining the Station North action. I say welcome True Vine!!!!

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