Thursday, December 18, 2014

Family enterprise builds a home for music


Amanda Arbogast and Shalie Chakarun, both of Reno, shop for LPs at Armadillo Music on F Street in downtown Davis. The longtime business moved to a larger space a few doors to the north earlier this summer. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

From page A1 | July 30, 2014 |

While you read this story, listen to a playlist of Armadillo Music staff favorites and artists that came up during the interview by clicking here 

Before Armadillo Music opens on a Saturday morning, the Chapman boys, ages 5 and 3, are playing with stuffed snakes. Owen and Quentin run around bins of records and CDs in the month-old space, two doors down from its original F Street storefront where they grew up in Armadillo onesies.

The boys’ parents, Athena and Josh Chapman, co-own Davis’ last-man-standing music shop. Josh runs the day-to-day, Athena helps with the long-term planning, working full-time for the California Association of Health Plans. They took over Armadillo after Athena’s father and store founder, Michael Krell, passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack.

“He had always had a love of music and live music and a huge collection of CDs and records, so music was always part of the family dynamic,” Athena said.

Krell opened the store in 1996, replacing Recycle Records. Rumor has it he named it Armadillo because he wanted an animal mascot, and he wanted to be at the front of the phone book.

Athena remembers him outside the store, sitting behind a card table buying tapes, CDs and vinyl from passers-by. She was 15.

“Well, besides thinking my parents were crazy, it was really one of my dad’s passions,” she said. “He listened to everything. He listened to Social Distortion, I remember my parents dressing up for Social Distortion and embarrassing me as a teenager.”

The store weathered the digital boom, surviving on customer loyalty even as other music stores moved in, then closed down.

After Krell’s death in 2008, his wife, Helen, fought to keep the store open while running her own private practice in psychiatry.

“We remember saying, ‘You’ve just got to close it,’ but we didn’t want to,” Athena said. “She just really wanted to keep it going as much as she could.”

So Josh and Athena packed up their bags and moved north, home.

“We wanted to keep this atmosphere here, we want people to have a place to come buy music and listen to music and experience it,” Josh said.

That’s the heart of Armadillo’s mission: make a store into a home. For music lovers, for local bands, for new and used CDs, vinyls, tapes. A home for the staff, like Paul Wilbur, who has worked at Armadillo since it opened (except for two years at an insurance company — “As my daughter said, it was like the insurance company had taken my soul,” he said), and Dylan and Laura Warner, who helped run the store for years. Dylan gave the eulogy at Krell’s funeral.

“They’re all just considered part of the family,” Athena said.

Shop Davis

Armadillo Music is one of many retailers in Davis who are part of the Shop Davis campaign. Why shop Davis? Sales taxes help pay for infrastructure, schools and city services;  local business owners support local charities and causes; convenience; jobs; creating a city brand helps grow tourism and attract other businesses; and it’s eco-friendly.

Earlier this year, six years after Krell’s death, nestware closed and Armadillo jumped at the opportunity to fill the larger space occupied by the Davis gift shop.

“The interaction between a customer and a product wasn’t the best (at the old store),” Josh said. “There would be six people browsing and it felt like it was full.”

Compared to the old place, the new store feels huge, modern and cool, with its sleek gray walls, chalkboard border, and bins and bins of physical music in a time when it has almost become a novelty. Records from Thin Lizzy to Superchunk decorate the walls from bin to ceiling, along with posters, shirts and portraits of musicians painted by a local artist.

The Chapmans opened the upstairs to used books and their 99-cent record collection, and the store has a dedicated stage, reserved for a family of stuffed armadillos when bands aren’t playing.

The move has helped Armadillo showcase its vinyl, whose resurgence has helped bolster the store’s sales.

“It’s so funny to watch somebody who is 65 and they’ll unload a pile of records and say ‘I don’t want them anymore, I’m done,’ ” Josh enacted. “And right behind them is this college kid and they say ‘Oh, I want to buy that.’ Because it’s a Doors record.”

“There was definitely a period of time when that dynamic was lost,” he added. “It’s such a cool medium to experience music, and to be able to provide that to a community — it’s fun to step back and watch people interact with it.”

Listen up

Looking for some new music? How about these albums, recommended by Paul Wilbur and Josh Chapman

“Why I Sing the Blues,” B.B. King

“Love at First Sting,” Scorpions

“It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” Public Enemy

“Endtroducing,” DJ Shadow

“Stardust,” Willie Nelson

“London Calling,” The Clash

“Blue & Sentimental,” Ike Quebec

“Rebirth,” Jimmy Cliff

“Ill Communication,” Beastie Boys



Elizabeth Case

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Former foster youths aided by UCD’s Guardian programs

    By Sarah Colwell | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Rain Recyclers saves water for another day

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    City plans signs to improve flow on Fifth Street

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Boston bombing suspect in court for first time since 2013

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    U.S., Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    State gets more rain, big mudslide

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Feds will discuss Berryessa Snow Mountain protection

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    ‘Longest Night’ service Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Nominate teens for Golden Heart awards

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Journalist will join post-film discussion Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    City offices will take a winter break

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    New technology chief will join McNaughton Newspapers

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Yolo County needs a few good advisers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Per Capita Davis: Time to stop fooling around

    By John Mott-Smith | From Page: A4

    NAMI-Yolo offers free mental health education program

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5



    Disagreement on mother’s care

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    Marovich is a brilliant diplomat

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    And a jolly time was had by all

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Remember that all lives matter

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Pollution from electric vehicles

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6



    On skiing: What to know when buying new skis

    By Jeffrey Weidel | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devil boys host Les Curry beginning Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD women gear up for second half of swim season

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie men begin 4-game road trip at Air Force

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Youth roundup: DBC Juniors rider Kanz wins a cyclocross event

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery



    College Corner: How does applying for financial aid work?

    By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: B3

    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B3

    Something growing in the mailbox

    By Don Shor | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Anniversary: Barbara and Jan Carter

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8



    Sing and dance along to Cold Shot at Froggy’s

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Point of Brew: Recollections of Christmases past

    By Michael Lewis | From Page: A7

    Golden Bough brings Irish holidays to The Palms

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Come ‘Home for the Holidays’ and benefit school arts

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7





    Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Thursday, December 18, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6


    Last Minute Gift Guide

    Young phenoms make YouTube success look like child’s play

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG1

    Classic or contemporary, it’s all holiday music to our ears

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG2

    Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG3

    Holiday decorating contest winners light up our lives

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: LMG4 | Gallery

    Gift ideas for the health-conscious

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: LMG6

    Hall of Fame proudly puts these toys on the shelf

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG7