The thing about Ruben Mendez and Lacey Swain is that they could sell you the shirt on your back if they wanted to. They won't want to, because neither of them is a jerk, but the point is: they're both incredibly charming and effortlessly persuasive. And they have good taste. You want to like what they like, because they're having such a good time liking it. Having arrived in Seattle via Austin in 2000, the pair has either played in a band or on a bill with half of everyone who matters—and the other half was drunk in the audience, having a really awesome night. Swain works at Sub Pop, Mendez works at the Sub Pop spin-off, Hardly Art. And now, together, they "work" in a gold van full of vinyl records and related items. It's called—wait for it... Gold Van Records. As of a recent Saturday night's maiden voyage/soft opening, you can go inside and buy a few, much in the same way you can go inside a taco truck and buy a few tacos. Neat right? To find out where the van will be parked and when, follow @goldvanrecords on Twitter.

WWW: What song or album is playing on your store’s sound system right now?
Swain: The soft opening was all about La Luz, Lost Animal, and Protomartyr, if memory serves.
What was your first job in retail? What did you love or hate about it and how does it compare to what you do now?
Mendez: My first job was at Waterloo Records in Texas, in the video section. After that I spent a good chunk of my life at Sonic Boom Records. The thing I loved about being a buyer for Sonic Boom was that I was able to order directly from smaller bands or smaller labels that weren't the "norm." I loved when people were excited to be able to buy these records that nobody else was carrying. I liked buying directly from the label or artist. There really wasn't an aspect that I didn't like. Right now I work for a record label doing the same thing on a larger scale, but I miss being able to work with everyone I like. So, the van/store will help me work, connect with more people, and expose people to new music in a fun and different way.

Swain: I’ve never actually really worked retail. I’ve always been more of a food/bar service kinda gal, but Gold Van is great because you get a chance to talk to people about music that you like, and you get to suggest things based on what you think they might like after just getting a chance to chat with them about the van and the whole idea. It’s pretty easy to figure out what people might be into based on their reaction to the whole set-up, actually.

What’s your favorite thing in the store right now? 
Mendez: This is hard to answer for a couple of reasons, but I'd go with Protomartyr's first full length LP and the white shag carpeting on the floor of the van. 

Swain: As far as new stuff goes, I’d say Protomartyr, Lost Animal, La Luz, and Zig Zags.

Where do you shop when you’re not at your store? 
Mendez: I mainly do my shopping online, and I go to Radar, Sonic Boom Records, Everyday, Easy Street, and Jive Time. It depends on what I'm looking for. I want to check out Neptune Records in the U-District.

Swain: I gave up on record shopping in about 2001. Ruben was working at Sonic Boom and he was always bringing home great stuff, so I just left it up to him. I would most definitely like to give a shout-out to Wall of Sound, though—that’s a place that I like to get Ruben gift certificates.

What do you love about your store’s neighborhood? 
Mendez: What I love about our store's neighborhood is that it will be anywhere we want it to be (hopefully).

Swain: Exactly! The best thing about our neighborhood is that it could be anywhere/everywhere! We can bring the van to whatever location suits us. (Now if only we could get it running good enough to drive it to where the sun is….)

What nearby restaurants, coffee shops, etc do you recommend? 
Mendez: The van/store is currently stationed in South Park. I'd recommend Loretta's, Napoli Pizza, or the Taqueria Rincon (taco truck). When it is out and about, I would say that I recommend any place that will have us, let us use their rest room, and of course... all local retailers. Lacey likes Starbucks.

Swain: The van is always bound to be doing business near a ton of other great shops and restaurants. Last weekend we were parked outside of Add-A-Ball in Fremont, which I highly recommend—best bar/arcade in Seattle, for sure. If I drank I’d be there every day.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in your store?

Swain: The strangest thing about our first outing was getting a jump from a stretch limo at the end of the night when the van wouldn’t start and we were ready to go. If all goes well, this will be the strangest thing that ever happens.

Mendez: Well, the whole thing is a little strange, really.


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