MUSIC TO OUR EARS

Austin brothers amp up local music scene with new stereo and record shop

Austin brothers amp up music scene with new stereo and record shop

Living in Stereo
Living in Stereo is now open. Photo by Katie Patrick
Living in Stereo
The shop is in the ground level Public Lofts condos, which offers free parking for retail patrons. Photo by Brandon Mathis
Living in Stereo
The brothers Johnson. Photo by Brandon Mathis
Living in Stereo
Living in Stereo
Living in Stereo

This may sound like a broken record: 2020 sucks. But two Austin entrepreneurs are trying to change that tune with a meticulously curated lifestyle record store in South Austin that is likely to strike a chord with music lovers.

Located at 4361 S. Congress Ave., Living in Stereo is more like a hip, cozy lounge than a retail outlet, evoking a midcentury modern design aesthetic and a vintage Austin vibe. It's the brainchild of brothers Robert and Enzo Johnson, who were laid off early in the pandemic but chose to invest their savings to open their dream shop.

The emporium showcases high-end stereo systems, both new and refurbished, as well as collectable guitars, home décor, custom neon signs, and vinyl records, and the space includes an onsite coffee bar featuring locally roasted beans from El Tigre Coffee. From the design elements to the eclectic offerings, each characteristic of Living in Stereo was chosen with intention, with the Johnson brothers aiming to capture the cultural significance and character of Austin’s halcyon days. 

“We really wanted to create a great space where people from all walks of life could come to appreciate and celebrate vintage gear, music, records, art, and design — all the things we’re passionate about,” Enzo Johnson says.

Though it seems counterintuitive, the brothers have the pandemic to thank for their new business. The duo lost their jobs at another area shop when the pandemic hit in earnest and a decline in sales led to layoffs. But with 20 years of combined experience in the music industry and an amplitude of knowledge about stereo systems, the Johnson brothers decided to face the music, opting to invest everything into Living in Stereo rather than simply survive off their savings.

“This may be our ‘Alamo,’ only with a key difference,” Robert Johnson says. “We think we can score a victory for both ourselves and people that value authentic Austin culture.”