Back to Business: Why Hybrid Records is more than music, it's about community
This monthly Caller-Times series called Back to Business showcases businesses and leaders in the Corpus Christi area.
Whether it has been a staple in the Sparkling City by the Sea for decades or just opened its door in the past few years, each business has its own special story.
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Owner Carlos Cooper's vision for his business was for it to become a staple of Corpus Christi.
Growing up in the Sparkling City by the Sea, he wanted a record store where people could congregate to discuss music, art and the community.
With no business background, Cooper took a risk and opened up his small shop and figured things out as he went.
"If I sat too long and thought about it, I'd talk myself out of it at some point," Cooper said.
Knowing his regulars on a first-name basis, he is able to make that connection with the community and help people discover new music they might not have found on their own.
Meet the owner
Q: What is your name, age and where were you born?
CARLOS COOPER: My name is Carlos Cooper and I'm 29. I was born in Corpus Christi.
Q: What is the name of your business and can you describe it?
CC: Hybrid Records. It's a record store first and then a cultural community hub second. We hope to create an environment where people can gather and discuss all types of art. Plus support the local artist scene.
Q: How many years has Hybrid Records been in business?
CC: Six years in November.
Q: What was the reason for creating this local business?
CC: I saw there was a market in Corpus that wasn't being fulfilled and I wanted to open a type of record store that I would want to go to when I first started getting into records. Specifically, something that focuses more on independent artists and niche record labels.
Q: What was your first job?
CC: My first job was a prep cook at Smoke Shack BBQ on the Base when I was 15. It was cool; I got the job because it was my neighbor's restaurant. I wanted to save up money for a car for when I turned 16. I was only there for the summer.
Q: What has been the high point with Hybrid Records?
CC: We acquired somewhere about 10,000-12,000 records on March 1, 2020. It was a huge moment because it was the biggest collection we ever bought. We buy collections from people to bring as much quality items as we can.
Q: What has been the low point with Hybrid Records?
CC: Well, two weeks after getting those records we had to shut down due to the pandemic. The records helped keep us open, but it wasn't the big, next step we were expecting. It was huge monetary investment too; all those records weren't cheap.
Q: What is your personal business philosophy?
CC: Always treat people fairly. We're obviously here to make money and a living, but I want people who come in here to sell to feel they're selling to someone who really cares about their records and get a fair deal. Same with people who come and shop; I want them to feel they're paying a fair price for a quality product and feel we know what we're doing. I would much rather everyone come in here feel good and I make less money than to try and exploit people with overpriced product.
Q: What are your future goals with Hybrid Records?
CC: To be a destination in South Texas for people to come and know there will always be something interesting to find here. Prior to COVID, we would have (music) shows, art shows and even did a beer tasting here monthly and I want to bring that back in the future. I want people to gather here and learn about new music from each other again. I don't have aspirations to open other stores or move to another city; I want to serve the community I grew up in.
Q: What is the best advice you can give to someone who wants to start their own business?
CC: Just do it. Whatever form or way that takes, do it. Ultimately, at the end of the day, whatever it is you do, you're never going to be able to succeed at it unless you're fully committed to it. If you're doing it on your own, be ready.
Address: 4233 South Alameda Street
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday
John Oliva covers education and community news in South Texas. Consider supporting local journalism with a subscription to the Caller-Times.