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Supporters rally to save South Side record shop

November 11, 2018

The aisles in Flip Side Record Parlor were crowded Saturday, and cars overflowed from the parking lot as customers browsed through shelves of albums inside.

In the lot behind the South Side store, dozens of people gathered to eat, drink and listen to music.

Owner Clarisa Peña was a blur, working the cash register, answering questions, greeting friends and posing for pictures while wearing a record-shaped sandwich board.

Peña, 44, who started working weekends at the store in 1993, has managed Flip Side for more than 20 years. She has owned it since 2011, after cofounder Doug Lease passed away.

In 2016, she was diagnosed with colon cancer, and after nearly two years in remission, recently learned that the disease is back and has progressed.

Keeping up with bills at the 47-year-old shop while fighting stage-four cancer has put the store’s future in jeopardy, but friends and customers rallied to support her at a fundraiser Saturday.

“I love it here,” said Bradley Tejeda, 27. He praised the unique records sold there and the friendly atmosphere.

He said he likes to start conversations with strangers at the store, asking about each other’s purchases and musical tastes. It’s a social place, he said.

“This is a huge part of the South Side and of San Antonio,” said Lisa Perotti, 47. She’s been shopping there on Southwest Military Drive for years, she said, because she likes the store’s vibe and wants to support local business.

Wooden shelves hold hundreds of records while posters and string lights cover the walls. Peña burns incense and sells stickers, patches and jewelry as well.

Sachmo, the store’s beloved bird and mascot, chirped and rang a bell in his cage behind the counter Saturday afternoon.

“It never really ages,” Tejeda said.

“You never know what you’re going to find,” said Michael Black, 52. “It’s more fun to just browse and go through the racks and see what posters she has up,” he said.

He praised Peña for finding records that are hard to come by elsewhere. “She’s always so nice and helpful,” he said, prompting him to come support the store Saturday.

In addition to records and T-shirts, Flip Side sold burgers, chips and dessert outside, all to raise money to help Peña make ends meet.

Jacob Trevino pulled out his phone as he sifted through a box of records, searching for a song online. He held the phone up to his ear for a moment, then set the record in his hand back down.

He likes to rifle through the stacks of records, he said, and will look up songs by artists he hasn’t heard of to see if he’ll like it.

“I’ve come here throughout my life,” he said. “It’s a little bit of the nostalgia, and the authenticity of this place. It’s kind of a cultural cultivator,” that brings people together, he said.

“This is absolutely phenomenal,” said Joann Hetrick, a longtime friend of Peña. “I’m overwhelmed with joy at how everyone has rallied for her.”

Lteitz@express-news.net | @LizTeitz

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