Jaica Tipper knew she’d be running her own business someday, so opening Tipper Records in Okotoks late last month at the tender age of 17 didn’t seem like much of a stretch.
After finishing high school a semester early thanks in part to credits earned working in the family business, Tipper decided to launch her vinyl-centric store to fill a void in town by selling albums that, in many cases, were recorded decades before she was born.
She opened the Fisher Crescent store on May 28 in space adjacent to The Hidden Gem, the family-run business where she earned those school credits. When that space became available earlier this year and the family was deciding on what to do with it, she pitched the idea of a record store.
“Four years ago when I moved from Calgary, where there are multiple record stores, I was super disappointed there wasn't one here,” said the avid collector who shares her parents’ entrepreneurial spirit.
Tipper said she has a love for business, which was heightened by classes at Lord Beaverbrook High School in Calgary, as well as ’80s music, so decided to combine the two in her new venture.
“I grew up on my dad’s musical tastes, so I’m kind of drawn to the ’80s,” she said, admitting that’s unusual for someone her age. “Most of the albums here are the old stuff, which is kind of my taste.”
The vast majority of her 400-album cache went into the store’s inventory, which was soon bolstered when she purchased collections from those who dropped by the store.
She’s been pleasantly surprised by the reception she’s received, adding she didn’t anticipate how many people, like her, have such a love for vinyl, with some coming from Calgary to get their hands on sought after albums.
Tipper said there’s something special about listening to an album on a turntable.
“Personally, I just love hearing how something sounds on record,” she said. “It’s just a different feeling. It sounds different, even if it doesn’t sound amazing.”
She is, however, a little perplexed by what’s been selling.
“This is Okotoks and everybody here loves country," she said. "Half of our country stuff is gone now, which is mind blowing to me because I never thought country would go over ’80s, but it does.”
Being the sole employee in a store that’s open seven days a week has been a labour of love for the teen who said she continues to receive much support from family and friends.
She’s enjoying talking music with customers who share her love for vinyl, saying she’s learned a lot since opening.
“A lot of people that come in have completely random stories, completely crazy stories," she said. "One guy came in and told me how he crowd surfed at Bryan Adams.”
Dad Vic Tipper said he’s proud, but not surprised his daughter has opened a record store because she’s been talking about owning her own business since she was 15.
He said she's always been a go-getter and has been instrumental in the success of The Hidden Gem.
The elder Tipper admits his taste in music has rubbed off.
“It’s so strange, I think she was meant to be born in the ’80s,” he said. “She knows more than me about ’80s stuff.”