Music Spotlight: Alex and Peter Cohen of Foundation

When I walked into Foundation, The Rolling Stones’ 1971 album “Sticky Fingers” was playing in the background. Peter and Alex Cohen, brothers and owners of the shop, lounged on chairs as they chatted with two customers who were flipping through their newest shipment.

“We started to sell records on Instagram to fund the other stuff we were doing, which was managing musicians and throwing events,” said Alex.

Since its April 2016 opening in College Park, the vinyl and vintage clothing store has carved a niche in the Orlando market by dealing only with original pressed albums. Their inventory comes from all over the country, with the brothers combing thrift shops and flea markets as well as working with wholesale buyers.

The Cohens handpick their inventory with their customers in mind, and patrons often come into the shop to sell their own finds.

Both brothers appear laid-back, and with their shop’s white, exposed ductwork and red brick walls adorned with sports memorabilia and band posters, Foundation feels like your cool big brother’s studio apartment. The back wall is hung with racks of soft, cotton shirts from The Grateful Dead’s 1992 Summer Tour, nineties-era NBA Championship jerseys, and yellow Camel cigarettes windbreakers printed with Old Joe on the back.

On the shelves, you’re as likely to find Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” as you are to find Miles Davis, Wu-Tang Clan and obscure ’70s U.K. pressings. A black mystery crate inspires the treasure hunt–feeling of rustling through the bargain bin at a pop-up shop.

“We hear some stuff that came out 40 years ago and was never remade,” said Peter. “We hear stuff for the first time that isn’t on iTunes, which is cool because we’re always learning about new music.”

Original versus reissue is a major debate for many vinyl lovers. Original pressings have a sought-after sound quality because the music is cut from a tape. Brand new vinyl that stores like Barnes & Noble sell is made from a digital file, which compromises the final product. As Alex explained, “It’s like a big CD being put on a record.”

Alex and Peter continue to sell records on Instagram. “Putting out some killer metal LP’s this afternoon!” captions a recent photo of album covers from Iron Maiden, Metallica and British heavy metal band Witchfynde. Customers are quick to comment on the titles they’re interested in, messaging Foundation directly on the platform.

“Because they cut out a lot of the fluff in their inventory, they also cut out a lot of the fluff when it comes to putting up walls between the customers,” said Peyton Davila, UCF student and frequent customer. “They have a keen ear and pick out better releases and different pressings that true collectors would look for rather than your casual shopper.”

“We leave [the reissue fluff] to the other stores,” Alex added. “They have that in the market. The greatest feeling is to be able to create that experience that [the customer is] looking for, whether it’s a $5 record or a $50 record. It’s cool to see someone get excited over us having what they’re looking for.”

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