Tucked between a strip of local shops on Virginia Avenue, Square Cat Vinyl is the quintessential Fountain Square store, offering the promise of local culture and music to the community. The recently opened business is a trove of records, local music, beer, and wine.
As one of the only record stores on the south-side of Indianapolis, Square Cat serves as a vital asset to Indianapolis’ local music scene, with an emphasis on live performances and local musicians.
Patrick Burtch, along with business partners Mike Angel and Kurt Phillips, launched Square Cat Vinyl shortly after the closure of Rocket 88, a Fountain Square doughnut shop owned by Burtch. Rocket 88 garnered controversy before its closure, regarding concerns about the authenticity of their vegan items and treatment of the store’s employees.
During his time at Rocket 88, Burtch met both Angel and Phillips. Phillips is also the owner of Fountain Square Animal Clinic and Mass Ave Animal Clinic.
Burtch and Angel are also the organizers of the Virginia Avenue Folk Fest. Over time, this shared appreciation for music sparked the idea of opening a record store.
However, the three aimed to distinguish their model from similar stores around Indianapolis by offering a unique destination for music and culture. This goal is achieved by what Burtch describes as a “three pronged system”: the bar, performance venue, and record selection.
Upon entering the store, it becomes clear why Square Cat is so different from other record stores in the area. The collection of records is considerably smaller than most, forcing careful consideration of what records will be sold.
“I came into it thinking the record portion was going to be split evenly with the bar,” Burtch explained. “But it’s been moreso tilted towards records, which surprises me.”
In a short time, Square Cat has developed a loyal following in the Fountain Square neighborhood, with regular customers stopping by two to three times a week. Since the opening in November, Burtch and Angel have strived to promote a welcoming environment, which they credit to the store’s quick success.
“We make an effort to be friendly environment,” Angel explained. “We go out of our way to try and procure whatever the customer is looking for.”
Much like the record selection, great care is put into setting up for live shows. With both local and touring acts performing at Square Cat up to five days a week, Burtch and Angel have worked on creating the best sound system for live performers.
“We’ve developed a good reputation of our live events,” Angel said . “We put so much thought into the sound, and put it into the viewpoint of our musicians.”
Their work has proven to be successful, as the store has hosted several sellout shows in the time since it’s opening.
As the store grows, Burtch hopes to obtain a larger space for live performers.
“We’d love to have more legitimate music venue space where we can do more styles of music that we can’t do now,” he said. “I see it going in a billion different directions, we’re always looking for the next thing.”
With the store’s first Record Store Day approaching, Square Cat plans to distinguish itself by highlighting their existing strengths as a record store.
“We have the natural advantage of the bar, so we’re better positioned to tap into that portion of the day,” Burtch said.
Among numerous live acts and limited releases, the store will also be doing giveaways for early customers and potentially throughout the day. The performance venue will be moved out to the alley, as they are anticipating a large crowd.
Square Cat will open early at 8 a.m. on Record Store Day. Record Store Day will take place on April 22, with events taking place at stores around the city.
“We’re just here to put music in people’s hands,” Angel said. “It’s been pretty exceptional.”