Community mourns North Market Street record store after three-alarm fire claims building


Photo courtesy of Jack Reardon — @jreardon_photography

With its windows boarded up, ceiling caved in, and much of its merchandise ruined, the Record Exchange on North Market Street is in an unfortunate state after a fire ravaged the antique brick building that housed it last Wednesday night into last Thursday morning. Once a popular hangout and record store, frequented by audiophiles and vinyl collectors alike, it’s now vacant of the life and energy it once contained inside its red painted walls.

Volunteers and friends of the store’s owner, Sam Lock, have helped to cart out water-damaged records, video games and CDs in the past few days, and have assisted in salvaging whatever goods were left unscathed. Also destroyed in the fire was Tiara Day, a local boutique based out of the same building, known for its vintage clothing and uncommon antiques. Owner Maria Peck had just received a large shipment of merchandise before the blaze claimed her beloved shop.

Many Tuscarora students who frequented the Record Exchange were crushed to hear about the store’s demise.

“I don’t think there’s a single person in Frederick who didn’t like the store,” declared Paul Barrett, a junior and frequent customer. “Definitely my favorite store.”

Jack Reardon, a local photographer and junior at Tuscarora, was on scene when the fire department worked laboriously to put the inferno out.

“My mother owns the Velvet Lounge downtown. I’ve grown up and have been involved in the downtown culture there all my life,” he commented. “[Lock] has always been friendly and kind. We talked around 1 a.m. while the fire was spreading about what he was going to do. He was motivated to start back up again and I totally respect that.”

Reardon took a number of photographs of the chaos, which truly put the appalling tragedy into perspective. 


Photo courtesy of Jack Reardon — @jreardon_photography


“I also saw the people that had their apartments destroyed by the fire,” he recalled. “It was hard to watch the families crying while the Red Cross was tending to them.”

As of yet, the cause of the fire is unknown. Most of the damage sustained was due to the significant amounts of water sprayed on the building by the fire department to extinguish the blaze. The fire occurred mostly on the roof and rear, near the apartments above the shops. While all the residents escaped safely with no reported injuries, several pets that were not rescued perished.

“I feel terrible for them and hope they can manage a recovery,” said Ethan Putnam, a junior and amateur vinyl collector.

Despite the tremendous blow that was dealt to the Downtown Frederick community, the area’s response to the catastrophe has been truly spectacular. In just five days, the GoFundMe set up by Lock has amassed almost $30,000 in donations, not only from generous customers, but also from owners of other record stores, some as far away as Denver, Colorado.

“I believe everyone that was displaced were given a couple of nights at a hotel and other vitals, provided free of cost,” mentioned Reardon.

It just goes to show how close-knit, devoted communities can prevail in the face of unforeseen hardships.

Lock is currently searching for a new location for his store, and eagerly welcomes vinyl donations as well as contributions to the GoFundMe in order to help rebuild the treasured local hotspot that he has put so much time, effort and love into.