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Mr. Good Boy

By Hugh Hart

Published Jul 1, 2019 8:00 AM

A UCLA alum has created a mobile record store that puts a vinyl lover's spin on L.A. cart culture.


Wilson pictured with the Mr. Good Boy Cart at one of its appearances — the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Adam Amengual.

The 350-pound listening station on wheels known as Mr. Good Boy Record Cart got rolling three years ago, when vinyl-loving music fan Ryan Wilson ’03 and his buddy Carson Lere speculated about how record sales might look in the futuristic sci-fi movie Blade Runner.

Wilson recalls, “We started talking about the mobile aspect, thinking about L.A. cart culture and street vendors and food trucks. Then I remembered my parents telling me about how record stores used to have listening booths in the back, which sounded like so much fun, and we were like, ‘Why don’t they do that anymore?’”

Wilson also took a cue from tiny record stores in Japan, where he went “crate-digging” during a 2015 trip. “In terms of being concise and clean and having a personality,” he explains, “we were definitely inspired by that Japanese record culture. Put all those ideas together, and that’s how we came up with Mr. Good Boy.”

The “Super Heavy” prototype debuted in November 2018 at the Best Made Co. outdoor lifestyle store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, beckoning curious shoppers with its eye-catching U-shaped design. Two pairs of record bins and six embedded speakers flank a turntable in the cart’s trough. Headphone-wearing music listeners browse through about 250 albums, place their picks on the record player and share the songs with fellow fans. “Our cart stayed in the store for three months, and records became the No. 2-selling thing in the store,” Wilson marvels. “It’s kind of crazy.”

Before launching Mr. Good Boy, Wilson channeled his passion for music by playing tuba in the UCLA Bruin Marching Band during his freshman year. He later ran the Campus Events Commission and played guitar in indie rock group Division Day. After graduating with an English degree, Wilson slept in his car for two months, determined to find a music industry job in Los Angeles. Stints at Rhino Entertainment Company and Concord Music led to his current job as head of business development for Seattle-based Light in the Attic Records.

Bullish about Mr. Good Boy’s analog allure, Wilson and Lere now manage a mini-fleet of three carts, which made appearances at this year’s SXSW and Coachella Music Festival’s Desert Gold program. At the Arts District shop Good Liver, they partnered on a Mr. Good Boy pop-up with Japanese record store Rare Groove.

“Not to be cheesy, but it was a heartwarming experience to have Norio Sato from Japan entrust us with his beautiful, collectible records,” says Wilson. “Music has the power to heal, power to motivate and change the space in somebody’s mind,” he says. “When you see people enjoy this communal experience of listening to music together, it’s kind of inspiring.”