Imagine your typical, yellow, 16-passenger school bus. Now paint it bright blue and silver. Soup it up with a full sound system and turntable for a DJ. And now fill it—not with kids, but vinyl records. That’s the Rockin’ Roller, the Twin Cities’ “only record store on wheels,” debuting this weekend at Open Streets Minneapolis.
It serves as a mobile retail space for indie record shop Solid State Vinyl Records, of Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood. The converted bus also tops off a let’s-sell-things-out-of-a-truck fad here in the Twin Cities that has ranged from every food concept imaginable to a roving florist’s to the Minnesota Art Truck, a red-and-blue pickup that purveys local art around the metro and actually inspired Solid State co-owner Phil Borreson to embark upon the Rockin’ Roller.
“We were at an event with Minnesota Art Truck over Art-a-Whirl weekend, and that was when it really hit me—that somebody else was doing this,” Borreson says.
He also needed to replace his old Mazda. “I was loading hundreds and hundreds of pounds of records into a Mazda3 to bring to events,” he says, “and it was just inconvenient.”
So, he found a local guy on Craigslist who wanted to get rid of a bus, after using it as an RV for family picnics.
“My main intention was, if we’re gonna do this, it’s gotta be cool,” Borreson says. “It can’t be like, ‘Oh, hey, I bought a big van’…We want people to get excited about it when it shows up.”
He painted it, tore out the seats, and installed handmade wooden tables inside, so it would feel like the brick-and-mortar Solid State. The bus primarily sells vinyl, obviously, but there are also pillows, T-shirts, blankets, and other decor items.
In a month or so, Solid State’s new website will keep tabs on the bus’s whereabouts. (You can also check social media.) The Rockin’ Roller will pull into events run by the Minneapolis Craft Market and the Minneapolis Vintage Market throughout the summer, with plans to partner with the new Venn Brewing Co. for National Night Out in August.
The bus also comes decked out with a DJ platform and sound system, literally hauling the party wherever it goes. Before buying music—where you’ll find funk and soul, mainly—you can sample it on the turntable.
“It was meant to be an all-in-one convenience,” Borreson says, noting that he also wanted to extend the store’s reach. “We have the shop in Longfellow—we’re on 46th—but it’s nice to get out to people and talk to them about music, too.”
The Rockin’ Roller debuts this Sunday (July 22) at Open Streets Minneapolis. Look for it near East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue.