Hot poop scoop: Inside the oldest indie record store in Washington state

Mallory Martin

On first stepping inside Hot Poop, Washington’s oldest independently owned record store, one is immediately overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff compacted into the small shop. Shelves upon shelves covered with semi-organized CDs and DVDs line the thin walkways. Band posters, banners and guitars of all shapes, sizes, colors and designs cram the walls. Elvis and Johnny Cash echo from the store’s speakers, and old music videos from various bands play on an assortment of television sets scattered throughout the crammed space. A giant bowl of Doritos sits on the counter, and the entire store smells of incense.

Credit: Marie von Hafften

This haven for the music lovers of Walla Walla, which just celebrated its 38th birthday Nov. 5, has a surprisingly big selection for such a small town establishment. The CD collection features everything from the Grateful Dead to this month’s Micheal Buble Christmas album, while DVDs offer a collection spanning Dick Tracy to porn.

Owner Jim McGuinn is still as passionate and excited about his business today as he was the day it first opened. Born in Guam, McGuinn originally opened his business in San Diego before moving it to Walla Walla. It hasn’t always been easy, but he has never regretted his decision.

“Every day could fill a chapter in a novel tentatively entitled ‘Paddling Upstream Without a Banjo or a Canoe . . . Wouldn’t You?'” McGuinn explained. “To quote the Beatles, I have worked ‘Eight Days A Week,’ with a grin on my face for 38 years or so it seems.”

How is it that he can still enjoy his job after 38 years of the same places and faces? The truth is, this entrepreneur just really loves music and everything to do with it.

“Personally, I really love the sweet soulful sound of a warm continual ringing cash register,” McGuinn joked when asked about his favorite bands. “A shorter list of the bands that I don’t like. I have never really appreciated Pat Boone or 99 percent of the musical performers from the TV show ‘American Idol.’ I am madly appreciative of the lifetime achievement of the Muppets.”

Credit: Marie von Hafften

Quirky, fun and incredibly knowledgeable about music, McGuinn is an amazing resource to any Whitman students looking to expand their musical horizons, or even just find that certain CD they’ve been searching for.

Main Street’s most popular music store goes by many different names to its biggest fans, with “The Musical Cathedral of the Unassuming Virgin,” “Hotel Poop,” and “Hot Pop Shop” being some of its owner’s favorites. Whatever you choose to call it though, it’s fair to say that Hot Poop’s name is its biggest initial draw to customers. However, contrary to popular rumor, the shop was never known as Hot Shit.

Hot Poop is a pun on the musical category ‘Hot Pop,’ McGuinn explained. Music that sells well is called Hot Pop because it is hot popular music that is currently selling briskly. In a very short time, [however] ‘Pop’ turns to ‘Poop.'”

Campus music enthusiasts should definitely stop by to meet the man and check out the music store; I doubt any will leave empty-handed. If McGuinn is unavailable, his long time employees Michael McGuinn, Keith Knotts, Zack Knotts and Jason Small are equally apt and excited to point you towards some great selections.

As a closing word to Whitman students, McGuinn offered up a little musical advice.

“As the Rolling Stones once sang on their album, ‘If you are out tonight and on a bike, don’t forget to wear white.’ Also, stay away from hard drugs or you are sure to become as angry, cranky and lifeless as your parents.”

Hot Poop is located at 210 E. Main, Walla Walla, Wash. 99362 and is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.