Music and Memories

by Oct 17, 2023Art & Culture, Southport Oak Island

With Big Love Vinyl, Doug Ausbury shares his love of music with the people of Oak Island.

Dream big, we tell our kids. A Forbes report on a recent nationwide survey on what kids want to be when they grow up showed that the most popular answers were doctor, teacher, scientist, chef, professional athlete, firefighter and astronaut. Only 10 percent hold their dream job today.

Doug Ausbury, owner of Big Love Vinyl in Crossroads Gathering Place on Oak Island, is in that 10 percent. While packing during his last move, he unearthed his 11th-grade composition about owning a record store, four paragraphs about his dream job.

Southport NC Big Love Vinyl

Ausbury has fond memories of music in his childhood years. He bought his first record album, a Van Halen record, at Sears, Roebuck and Company when he was in seventh grade with his paper route money. He also rode his bike to his local Camelot Music store to buy records.

“I also remember sneaking out of church early so I could get to a radio and hear Casey Kasem reveal the number one song of the week,” Ausbury recalls.

Ausbury became completely entrenched in music during high school.

“I would put on the worst clothes I could find and take my dad’s station wagon and a flashlight to a large downtown Dallas record company’s dumpster in the middle of the night,” Ausbury recalls. “I would come out with treasures — records, cassettes, promotional material for albums, posters and cardboard replica album covers. I would take everything to a Dallas record store where that stuff was gold. I would trade for store credit and walk out with stacks and stacks of records.”

The credit was the blank check Ausbury needed to explore all possible musical genres. It also offered him a deep dive into music, lyrics, artwork, band members and producers. Over the next two years, he amassed a collection of 2,000 records. He kept them in stacks in his bedroom.

“I became an encyclopedia of all things music, digesting and learning everything from the liner notes of the albums,” he says. “Now I am the person everyone wants on their music trivia team.”

A lot happened since that 11th-grade writing assignment — college, careers, marriage and kids. Ausbury’s first job out of college was recruiting mystery shoppers to enter stores to evaluate customer service experiences and compiling data to present back to the clients. He worked for a large hospital, being groomed for hospital administration. At one point he was laid off. With a one-year old and three-year old in tow, he took the opportunity to launch a business in digital marketing, developing and optimizing websites, riding on the successful launch of Google that same year.

Vinyl Records

Fast-forward 25 years.

“During COVID I acquired too many records, nearly a couple thousand,” Ausbury says. “My wife, Kim, who is a professional organizer, came into my office stacked floor to ceiling with records. I’m 6 foot 5 and not hard to miss, yet she called out ‘Are you in there?’ I decided it was time to go through every record I had ever acquired.” Over a weekend in December 2020, Ausbury built a website and opened his online shop, Big Love Vinyl, named after the song by Fleetwood Mac and 1 Corinthians 13:13.

Last year Ausbury met Mike Jones at his church. Jones was about to open a vendor marketplace in Oak Island.  He and his wife, Bre, and co-owner Katie Clegg enthusiastically welcomed Big Love Vinyl into Crossroads in March 2023. The shop is a collection of new, pre-owned and collector records and accessories. There are more than 3,000 albums awaiting new caretakers in the shop along with 1,500 on the website.

Caretakers?

“Here’s how I see it,” Ausbury says. “I have 4,000 records in my personal collection, not for sale. I don’t see myself as someone who just owns them, but someone who is the caretaker of them. At some point, they will be passed along to the next caretaker. When I take a record out of Big Love’s inventory, pack it up, put someone’s name on it and ship it, this person now becomes the caretaker.”

Ausbury posts website sales on social media with a nod to The Beatles: I say goodbye. You say hello. The shop at Crossroads is a new kind of fun for Ausbury.

“Being able to curate my own record shop is an adrenaline rush,” he says. “I get to figure out what others want to listen to from jazz to country, soundtracks and Japanese presses. I love the constant work of curation. Helping people find music they love is a great feeling.”

Big Love Vinyl

A lot of records pass through Ausbury’s hands.

“There is a place for every one of them,” he says.

If he does not keep it for his personal collection, Ausbury will put the record online or in the shop. About twice per month, he donates albums to Once More Bookstore managed by Friends of the Library Southport & Oak Island or to Habitat for Humanity Restore, both located in Southport. “It’s my way to give back,” he says.

“Come in and enjoy the walk down memory lane,” Ausbury says. “Connect with music again on a deeper level. Music and memories . . . that’s big love.”

Want to go?
Big Love Vinyl
Crossroads Gathering Place
128 Country Club Drive #42, Oak Island
(910) 408-2610
Open every day of the week, but hours vary.
Big Love online is always open: bigloveyvinyl.com

Photography by Beth A. Klahre, Mike Jones and Doug Ausbury