Go, go, Retro Rose: Record store in Benton sprung up during a pandemic surge
For anyone growing up in Benton, Hastings was the place to go to for vintage vinyl. When the ’90s mainstay finally closed in 2016, it drove fellow music buffs and me to look elsewhere in Saline County for record players, stacks of vinyl, stickers and band tees.
Enter Retro Rose owner and UA-Little Rock alum Audra McAnally. McAnally graduated from Bryant High School in 2014 and from UA Little Rock’s School of Business in May 2018. She put her experience and skills to work in real estate with her own property preservation business. But when the pandemic closed down the world for a while, McAnally decided to try something new.
“I’m a young lady with a big dream,” she said. That dream? To use her passion for collecting and selling vinyl records to “create an environment where everyone can feel welcome” in downtown Benton. Having already rented a space for the property business, McAnally and her boyfriend Brandon converted her office to a vinyl record store.
Retro Rose, whose name was inspired in part by its owner’s middle name, sits at 113 E. Sevier Street next to Allied Glass. The shop opened on Oct. 30, 2020, in the midst of a pandemic surge. Despite this, Retro Rose has continued to attract customers and takes part in Benton’s Third Thursday events every month, during which McAnally hosts an open mic for local musicians and singers.
McAnally said she is always hunting for new and used vinyl for her store. Retro Rose’s look is a beautiful mixture of the old and new, with hardwood floors, turntables, plenty of vinyl organized by genre, and classic rock on the radio — usually a mix of Arkansas Rocks and The Point 94.1. There’s also a separate section with a couch, plus a small changing room for trying on band tees.
“Sometimes when people come in, they tell me my shop reminds them of Hastings,” McAnally said. Locally owned businesses like Retro Rose have filled the void left by large chain stores and restaurants in Saline County in the last few years. Not far from Retro Rose are Valhalla Pizza and Axe Throwing and Baja Grill in the former Palace Theater building and the Main Street Station, where food trucks gather near the courthouse square. Just Ice Cream, another locally owned business, serves up Loblolly Creamery’s ice cream on Market Street.
“When my sister was 18 she gained full guardianship of me,” McAnally told us. She was 11 at the time, and attributes her business drive to her upbringing. “When you grow up the way we grew up, you really don’t have much hope, but I was lucky to have an awesome brother and sister who always pushed me to be the best version of myself. I graduated high school, graduated college, and I am now on my second business at age 25. I hope to one day mentor teenagers who come from bad situations and let them know that anything is possible if you work hard enough,” McAnally said.
“Music helped me through life more than anything. And that is where my passion for it comes from. When you’re sad, you play a sad song and let it out. When you need some motivation, you play something that gets you hype. When you want to chill, you play some music to help you chill. Music is good for everything. I really don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have my brother, my sister, and very importantly, music.”
As for the future of Retro Rose, McAnally said that she wants to “create a welcoming environment to everyone with a main focus on teenagers. Teaching the younger kids about music and letting them have a safe space to go, that is really what our focus is.” Retro Rose is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat., and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sun.
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