Record Shop Has Been an Indy Fixture for 24 Years
Writer / Megan Jefferson
Photographer / Andre Jefferson
Todd Robinson is the owner and founder of Luna Music, and it has been a fixture in Indianapolis for 24 years.
Robinson is originally from a small town in Ohio and is the youngest of eight children. In 1994 he found himself at a bit of a crossroads and was considering taking an entry-level job with Warner Bros. in Cleveland. It was then that he started visiting his brother, who lived in Indianapolis. They’d hang out, enjoy the city, visit record stores and soon recognized there was a need for more music shops. Robinson decided to take a chance. With his brother’s support and encouragement, he opened Luna Music on 86th and Ditch Rd.
“I knew if I was going to set about building a record store, I wanted to put my whole heart into it and conceive it from the ground up, not just make it like any other place,” he says. “I moved specifically to Indianapolis because I love the city, it reminded me of the town I came from, just a bigger, more exciting version of it.”
Robinson was inspired by a couple in Dayton, Ohio who operated the 2nd largest independently owned record store in the nation. They were sensible and creative. They put café’s inside of bookshops, did author signings and created a space where people enjoyed hanging out. To this day, many businesses follow these trailblazer’s template. They inspired Robinson to have the mix of products that Luna carries: cards, books, test pressings, records, new and used, cassettes and CDs.
Luna now operates in just one location, at the corner of 52nd and College Ave.
“This is the best location,” Robinson says. “I absolutely dig it here. The community response has been fantastic.” He says they are lucky to have an open, like-minded clientele that likes to come in and have a nice exchange of ideas, information, tips and music.
The shop has never been just one thing. Shortly after he opened the store on College Ave, he ran a record label out of the back office and released nearly 100 records. “When I ran the record label and got flushed with cash, I didn’t feel good about it unless I could turn around and reinvest in local artists,” Robinson says.
In support of the local music scene, he hosts local musicians to have in-store performances, and he’s employed a gaggle of local musicians. Luna offers consignment for local musicians releasing their records. There’s 45,000 cars going north and south on College in a 24-hour period. He encourages local groups to take advantage of this and hang their flyers in his window.
Robinson doesn’t consider himself an artist, but he does consider the store a physical articulation of ideas and collaboration with his co-workers, local artists, international artists and the people who walk through the door to buy a record or cup of coffee.
Luna has a presence on the world market, too. They often host in-store performances for national and international musicians. People visit Luna because they know the store will have a great selection of old and new, local and world music.
Luna recently celebrated Record Store Day – an international holiday celebrating independent record stores.
“This day is huge because it celebrates the culture to which I’ve dedicated my life’s work,” Robinson says. “In a larger sense, it celebrates the independent business person who is there every day, early, getting it done and making sure what they are doing is the best they can possibly do.”
To celebrate Record Store Day on April 21, this year, Luna had a blazing line up of amazing local talent. They released an exclusive record – Richard Edward’s performance from last year’s Record Store Day celebration.
It’s a great asset to the community to have business owners who are passionate about their work, like Robinson. He says the best part of his job is going in every day, going elbow-to-elbow with his coworkers and saying hi to the people who walk in through the door. His goal is to provide an outlet for people to buy soul music with which to feed themselves.
You can visit Luna Music at 5202 N. College Avenue or reach them at 317- 283-5862. Visit them online at lunamusic.net.