Take a Tour of Sub Pop's Seattle Airport Store

by Alex Scordelis
Last week, I was horrified when I discovered that I'd absentmindedly booked a flight from Los Angeles to New York with a four-hour layover in Seattle.

Lucky for me, I remembered that Sub Pop Records, the venerable grunge-peddling indie label, just opened a record store in Terminal C of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport earlier this month. For a mosh-pit junkie like myself, it'd be the perfect place to kill time.

I found the Sub Pop Airport Shop upon landing (just across from the Life Is Good! Neighborhood Shop), and was given a deluxe tour by two employees, Rachel Rhymes and Jacob Powers. "The shop is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. 365 days a year," Powers said. That's 5,840 hours of mile-high-ready indie-rock a year. So move over Starbucks, there's a new hot spot for tourists and businessmen with connecting flights. Let the tour begin!

"This sweatshirt ($40) is by far our best-selling item," Powers said. "It's been flying off the rack." And that bitchin' gas-station jacket next to it is perfect if you're traveling back in time to attend Lollapalooza '93.

Stop by the listening station before choosing which vinyl to carry on your flight. All the Sub Pop classics are here: Nirvana, Mudhoney, Dum Dum Girls, Fleet Foxes, Beach House, Postal Service and more. Can you spot a shirtless Chris Cornell?

Even stewardesses were getting in on the fun! In fact, in the time I spent in the shop, the majority of customers were flight attendants. "Look, Suzanne!" I overheard a JetBlue attendant remark to another. "At least they've got a Heart CD. They're good."

"We had a bunch of TSA guys in here this morning," Powers said. "One of them really liked the yellow pencils, but then when he saw they had the Sub Pop 'LOSER' logo on them, he looked at me and said, 'That's rude.' "

"Many of the items on sale are co-branded with local artists, like these dinner plates," Rhymes said. I asked if the dinner plates are a big seller. She smiled.

Like any airport store worth its salt, the Sub Pop shop carries neck pillows. Perfect for a red-eye nap, or to nurse post-headbanging neck pains.

"Mudhoney stopped in recently on their way to play shows in Brazil," Powers said. "One of the guys was unhappy because he was on a different flight from the rest of the band."

"Right now, everything on sale is exclusive to this shop, except for the records," Rhymes said. "The other stuff might go on sale on the Sub Pop website at some point, but for the time being, the only way to get your hands on these products is to have a plane ticket. It's the world's most exclusive record store."

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