A new sign popped up just off the corner of Pine and Maine Street last week. In big, neon green letters laying on a black backdrop are the words “Lizard Dog Records.”
Under the sign and through the front door, which feels much more like a side door, lays a wall of speakers and the store owner, Joe Belisle, spinning a record from his 500-record-tall “to listen” pile. A neon green wall accents the black painted walls, and wooden crates filled with records as well as CD and cassette selves line the perimeter of the store. A large photo portrait of an Australian Shepard named Lizard hangs on the wall across from the towering speakers.
Lizard Dog Records is one of the many stores that opened in downtown Orono this fall.
It all started on the first of September when Game Citadel, a Bangor-based hobby and video game store, opened up next to the beloved plant shop, Maineley Succulents. Thanks to this store, you don’t need to leave Orono to find a niche collection of board games, RPGs, D&D, Magic and other hobby supplies, as well as modern and retro video games, systems and accessories.
Thirty days after the opening of Game Citadel, The Orono Arcade opened right next door. Although there is no Pacman, students can play a wide variety of modern arcade games, mini golf and even some more retro games like Tetris.
And now, Orono adds to its list of modern, 80s-styled stores with Lizard Dog Records, which opened on Saturday, Oct. 21.
Lizard Dog Records sells mostly used records as well as CDs and cassette tapes. According to Belisle, he eventually wants to sell newer records to fill in the gaps and record players and stereo equipment.
The store appears to be affordable, with record bins labeled by genre and price. “$3 Jazz,” “$1,” “Staff Picks,” and “$5 & Up” are some examples of the organization of the store’s record collection.
According to Belisle, the main decades of music covered in his stock are from the 60s, 70s and 80s: Donald Byrd, Larry Cohen, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and more are artists you can find in his shop. Within these decades, you can find music from the genres of jazz, country, folk, soul and r&b and classic rock.
“Eventually, I want to fill in the gaps on newer music,” said Belisle. But, for the time being, he is just excited to get the shop opened to the public. “For me, it’s about getting more vinyl out there. I am excited to meet other people who are into vinyl and music. To take suggestions on what music they listen to and what music I should have in the store.”
Belisle started to seriously collect records during the COVID-19 pandemic. He would go to antique stores and sift through records. He started to buy larger lots because he was able to get more records for the same price. His records accumulated, and he eventually had enough to open a booth at an antique mall.
He started at The Dream Catcher Antique Mall in Ellsworth, Maine, and not too long after that, he opened another booth at the Fairfield Antiques Mall in Fairfield, Maine.
Eventually, he decided it was time to order a proper record shop. According to Belisle, he wanted his store to be located in a downtown area so there would be a sense of community. and he knew there was a music niche to fill in Orono.
“It could be a cool place for students to hang out,” said Belisle.
He’s been searching for a place in Orono for at least six months, and finally, around five weeks ago, he jumped on an opening at 4 Pine Street.
“Since then it’s just been a whirlwind,” said Belsile.
With Orono’s bubbling local music scene, a record shop makes sense. Hopefully, it will provide students with a space to wind down after a long day of classes and a chance to expand their music taste with a new record, CD or cassette.
Lizard Dog Records will be open to fulfill your physical media needs Wednesdays through Fridays from 4-8 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 p.m.
Accompanied by Game Citadel and the Orono Arcade, Lizard Dog Records will provide University of Maine students with another way to spend their time during the quickly approaching winter months.