Vatican City Vinyl: not endorsed by the Pope

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The shop is located downtown on Washington Blvd. The couple was originally going to set up shop across the street from Ringling but decided that this location had the best drive-by traffic.

Hindustani classical music seeped through the doorway and the smell of fresh wood fanned through the clean, methodized space. No, this was not a trendy meditation spa where “Namaste” was dropped on the regular, but instead a cozy record shop in downtown Sarasota, satirically named Vatican City Vinyl. Labeled as “The Unholy Home of Rock ‘N’ Roll Records,” the shop was founded by Sarasota-born Katelyn Booth and her partner Christian Downing.

The shop held its grand opening in November of last year but it originally started a year ago as an online store, selling on Ebay, Discogs and other similar websites.

“It’s always been a dream of ours since we’ve been together to open up a record store,” Booth said. At first, the couple wanted to open a store somewhere up north but decided to stay in Sarasota. “We didn’t know that Sarasota had anything to offer us,” she said.

“We didn’t know if people were collecting here but we just kind of went for it. We just were kind of like ‘Well there is no one here and we’re here now so let’s just do it and let’s give it a shot.’”

According to Booth, the demographic of customers is wildly varied. The couple originally thought they would mostly be catering to college students, but were surprised to find that fresh, young collectors are as common as seasoned collectors in their nineties.

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Inside the shop, customers browse the store’s extensive collection.

The store carries a wide variety of music ranging from psychedelic rock to fusion. All the records are packed into small wooden boxes lining the walls and floors. For the records on the ground, the shop was offering a “buy three for $1” deal.

“We started buying like everything,” Booth said. “It first started with garage sales and Craigslist. Once you get in with people, you can find people that have leads and once we got [to Sarasota] it has mostly been people bringing [records] in to sell so we don’t really have to go out as much.”

For the name, the couple wanted to choose something whimsical and memorable.

“It’s shock value I guess,” Booth said. “We thought it would be some good marketing to use a lot of Jesus, but we haven’t really gone with that. It’s just supposed to be funny.”

Booth is a self-described college dropout from State College of Florida who has lived in Sarasota almost her entire life. Though she would not describe herself as a musician, she likes to play around with instruments in her free time. Downing, on the other hand, plays guitar and used to be the lead vocalist in a band. Because of their musical background, the owners are passionate about local music and carry it for free in their store.

“We want this to be a hub or an outlet for them to put their music somewhere other than online or at their shows,” Booth said.

As for upcoming events, Vatican City hosts “Vinyl Night” at Growler’s Pub every Thursday and is participating in a “Record Shindig” in St. Petersburg on April 5. They will also be partaking in Record Store Day on April 19.

To find out more about Vatican City Vinyl visit

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