When Lauren Reskin, 31, decided to open Sweat Records eight years ago, she wanted her new business to unite Miami’s large but geographically spread out population of music lovers.
Now her record store in Little Haiti sells music from all genres and operates a fully vegan coffee bar, which offers vegan cupcakes, bars and treats in addition to handmade-to-order beverages. Sweat Records has also become an event space for movie screenings, comedy acts, concerts and more.
“Being an all-ages event space, promoting the resurgence of vinyl and providing resources for local musicians have been our biggest accomplishments yet,” said Reskin.
The next event, scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, will feature the band Elastic Bond, a local, multi-instrumental band that just signed with Nacional Records, a Sony/RED-distributed independent record label. The show will include a listening party as well as an acoustic performance.
“I’m all for supporting local musicians and seeing the talent for myself,” said Franck Annilus, 29, a recent customer at Sweat Records. “I look forward to seeing this band in person.”
Born and raised in Miami, Reskin was a DJ and club promoter who also worked at the Virgin Megastore that used to be at Sunset Place before opening her business.
“Miami didn’t have a classic, independent record store,” Reskin said. “I knew there were enough people down here with good taste in music to support one.”
The increasing number of online music shoppers has not slowed Sweat Records’ progress. Vinyl sales have increased more than 25 percent each year since 2006.
“People love the tactile experience of vinyl, the analog sound and the pure enjoyment of going to a place where you can physically discover music instead of just clicking around,” Reskin said.
Alberto Martinez, 31, who recently discovered Sweat Records, agreed.
“I never knew there was a place in South Florida with such a wide selection of original and independent records,” he said.
However, the increases in sales and development of a customer base have come alongside adversity, which includes burglaries and even a natural disaster.
In 2005, Hurricane Wilma destroyed Sweat Records’ first location, originally on Northeast Second Avenue at 23rd Street. The entire front wall of the second floor collapsed onto the street below, rendering the building unsafe and forcing the business to relocate.
Then, three years later, the store was broken into and just about every piece of electronic equipment was stolen. The intruders also vandalized the place and smashed the store’s coral reef tank. No one was charged in the crime.
“We are so thankful that tons of love, support and financial help poured in from so many of our fans,” she said. “We were able to reopen just three weeks later.”
The support from the fans, as well as the five employees, has helped make Sweat Records a family-like environment for its customers.
Jason Hernandez, 29, has been a regular customer since the store was at its first location.
“I frequently buy records there. They always have what I want, and I have become good friends with the staff,” Hernandez said. “I’ve developed personal relationships with each staff member, and they know exactly what I like, which is what separates it from other record stores in Miami.”