“Change is inevitable, but this little pocket has not changed nearly as much as some of Austin,” LaRue said.
The record store, adorned with a ‘60s-style sign and colored disks that create a stained glass look, shares a parking lot with a vintage clothing store and Epoch Coffee—an easily recognizable strip mall with the coffee shop’s large mascot donning the corner.
The business’s location, in the vintage, artsy corridor, has been part of its long-term success and an even more essential component to the shop’s survival during the pandemic, LaRue said.
“I’ve been a lifelong music fan and have been collecting records since I was a kid,” LaRue said.
As he aged and technology changed, his love for the medium remained steadfast. LaRue said he left Austin for a while, but when family brought him back to town, he and business partner Gabe Vaughn decided to create a local record store.
“I’m from the age where, you know, cassettes were kind of new,” LaRue said.
Breakaway Records, which has been in place for 11 years, specializes in indie vinyls that span the decades. The store’s main business comes from buying and selling records collected by Austinites, though the store offers newer selections, too.
“One of the cool things about running a record store here is that there are not only music fans, but there are people who have bought and collected records,” LaRue said.
When the shop first opened, LaRue said not a lot of labels were interested in producing vinyls. New technology, such as iTunes, offered a cheaper and easier way to disseminate music. But Austin, with its citizenry of music lovers and artists, had vinyls to sell and swap. Then records took off. Major labels started putting anything on a record—from Drake to classic rereleases—that could sell.
Due to the pandemic, the store closed from March to November 2020, then reopened for the holiday season. LaRue and Vaughn raced to create an online store, but things were tight. LaRue said longtime customers stepped up to help, purchasing large gift certificates or ordering a regular supply of new records. LaRue said it was important to the neighborhood that the store survive.