Phillip Rollins – aka D-J Young Venom – is as in demand for spinning records as he is for his Midtown Jackson shop, Offbeat. The alternative culture store specializing in designer toys, records, and comics and serves as an art gallery for young minority artists, as well as a venue for live, local music shows.
In an effort to help you shop local, small businesses this holiday season, we sat down with Rollins to learn more about his shop and what he offers to his patrons.
- Tell us about your business and a brief history.
OffBeat started as an idea and an attempt to help out the community through a store/art gallery. I learned how to read from comics and being a DJ… they just mesh so well together. I felt like (comics) wouldn’t be strong enough as a store by itself, so, let me combine the two and add in some designer toys and a gallery wall for minority artists. That was May 2014.
Offbeat came from me being a part of the Mississippi Black Leadership Institute and, while my peers ran for office or opened up a practice, I wanted to do something different. Since then, we have hosted shows, had parties, movie screenings, album releases, free comic book days, video game tournaments, record store days and so much more. I want people to realize all the potential Jackson has before giving up on it.
- Why do you stand apart from the competition (especially larger or national brands)?
Offbeat is more of a hangout spot for like-minded people. You realize you have more in common with people than you first thought when looking for music. I try to make sure that I give customers recommendations or help them find what they are looking for as opposed to going to a “big box store” or Amazon. You won’t get that same experience (there). We also have a rewards program for frequent buyers so they can save money.
- How has this year affected your business?
This year has been rough. We stopped and canceled all our events back in March and we focused heavily on our website to push online and curbside sales. With this store, it’s kind of a hard sell with the items being so tangible. With used records, you want to look at them see the condition before purchasing. With comics, you want to see if the art catches your eye. People also don’t really see how the store is laid out and the art, so they miss that experience.
- What do you want your customers and potential customers to know about buying from you and small businesses like yours?
I want all customers to know that we are doing our best and we are striving to be better during these times. We are remaining as safe as possible with appointment-only shopping, curbside pickup, and delivery in the metro area for the holidays so orders won’t get lost in the mail or delayed. Also, if there is something that you want us to carry or find, please don’t hesitate to ask.