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Airstream Spintrospective

Second Spin: Vinyl gets a new lease on life at Creme Tangerine Records at The Lab Anti-Mall, Costa Mesa

We were cruising around our Mesa the other day – just walkin’ and soakin’ up those coastal, Costa Mesa vibes – when suddenly a most epic idea struck home: What Costa Mesa needs is a signature soundtrack! A mix-tape for the ages, a playlist to end all playlists – a curated collection of superbly-selected songs that, once masterfully melded, embody who we are, how we began, where we’re going. The “Costa Mesa condition” set to music.

While the idea may be cool in theory, we personally couldn’t score a soundtrack to save our socks; it’s just not in our suite of skills. But guess which local among us has the requisite songsmanship in spades? Today’s featured Costa Mesan, of course!

He’s one of those die-hard music connoisseurs – you know, a MUSIC CONNOISSEUR – who plucks records off the rack with an unerring air of innate, impeccable taste.  We’re talking about none other than one Parker Macy, owner of Creme Tangerine Records over at The Lab in the SoBeCa District.

Parker Macy at his Airstream shop, Creme Tangerine Records, in Costa Mesa

Owner Parker Macy at his airstream record shop, Creme Tangerine Records, at The Lab Anti-Mall in Costa Mesa
Photo: Brandy Young

We caught up with Macy – and his manager, Chris Lynch – outside his airstream record store located in the heart of the Anti-Mall just shy of Urban Outfitters. Macy is a self-described “preacher’s kid” who first fell for the forbidden-fruit branches of music back when listening was off-limits.

“As a kid, I wasn’t allowed anywhere near those racks of cool music,” said Macy. “Of course, that made them all the more interesting. They were a little edgier and just outside my age limit, so the whole thing just seemed really fun. As I got older, that love of music really solidified in me and I started dreaming of opening my own record shop. If I did, I always knew it would be in Costa Mesa.”

Macy cut his teeth working at Pepperland Music in Orange, and he wasn’t there long before he struck out on his own. 2009 found him running a small record stand inside SEED People’s Market which eventually caught the attention of the owner of The Lab and The CampShaheen Sadeghi.

“He arranged for me to see this airstream and said, ‘Maybe we could do this for a while as you’re working towards getting a bigger space,'” said Macy. “Just like that, Creme Tangerine was born. It couldn’t have worked out any better because even if I could do a bigger space, right now, this is still the way to go for me. It’s super manageable and stress-free.”

Racks of records on vinyl at Creme Tangerine Records at The Lab Anti-Mall in Costa Mesa, California
Creme Tangerine Records: "Thank You for keeping vinyl alive," at The Lab Anti-Mall, Costa Mesa
Go For The Vinyl: Epicures of “Licorice Pizza” Will Find Lots To Love At Creme Tangerine
Music galore at Creme Tangerine Records at The Lab Anti-Mall, Costa Mesa in Orange County, California
Creme Tangerine Records at The Lab Anti-Mall, Costa Mesa in Orange County, California
Photos: Brandy Young

Beatles fans will quickly recognize the origins of the record shop’s name.

“I am a huge Beatles fan,” emphasized Macy. “But the name still didn’t come easy. I had about 15 or 20 names that got thrown around over at least 40 cups of coffee at Gypsy Den. Then one day, it just hit: Creme Tangerine. I liked how visual it was.”

Despite the airstream’s cozy confines, Macy manages to make the most of it. Racks and racks of vinyl line the interior of the trailer, while cases full of CDs and cassette tapes also abound. Novelty items like posters and buttons and “who knows what else” can be found throughout. There’s even a vintage, arcade, fortune-teller machine inside, just to make the trip even more worthwhile.

“I rebuilt the fortune-teller machine myself,” said Macy. “Now it comes with downloads of local bands we like, so we can get the word out about local artists and make it easy for people to go check them out.

“That’s big for us, the local artist thing, and it’s something we really try to focus on. Even though our selection isn’t huge, our local artist section is awesome – and 100% of all sales goes to the artist. So anytime they have records or cassette tapes, they can bring them here and we’ll display them. Some of the bands sell really well and some of them have had the same 2 records sitting here for 2 years. But because we don’t take a dime from it, they are in control of how that goes down.”

Cassandra Sez: "If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say, You Should Keep Your Mouth Shut."
Shoppers of Fortune: Questionable Psychic Counsel and Assorted CDs can also be had at Creme Tangerine
Not Just Vinyl: CDs, Cassette Tapes and Collectibles also make the cut at Creme Tangerine Records in Costa Mesa
Photos: Brandy Young

As far as the music selection at Creme Tangerine, the sky really is the limit.

“Whatever your music tastes, we’re not going to judge” said Macy. “I’m the guy buying Carole King records at the same time I’m buying Black Sabbath, so anything goes. We don’t hold back on genre. We mostly do rock, blues, jazz, funk and soul – but we also have a little bit of hip-hop and a little bit of reggae. Chris has twisted my arm enough that we finally have a small electronic section, too.”

Music is so subjective, and tastes so susceptible to trends, it can be tricky figuring out what people will want – and when.

“Every week is a little bit different,” said Macy. “We had an entire month where everybody wanted to buy Françoise Hardy. I don’t know what caused it – I mean, I’ve always loved her stuff – so we bought a bunch for the shop to meet demand. Then they just sat there for weeks and didn’t move; trend over.

“So that’s part of the art of it, the balance between what we want to carry, what we personally like and what our customers want to take home.”

When he’s not selling other artists’ music, you might also find Macy making his own.

“We have our own record label,” he said. “We put on a few shows for our artists and release local music from time to time. Chris and I are also musicians and play on rare occasion.”

Happy Trails: Macy and Lynch Hearting Costa Mesa In Style, at Creme Tangerine

Photo: Brandy Young

So what was it about Costa Mesa that convinced Macy to launch his shop in town?

“My family transplanted here from Reno when I was about 10 years old,” said Macy. “From the moment I got here, I knew Costa Mesa was a cool town. I moved out of my parents house and landed around 19th and Placentia because I wanted to be in the part of town with the best live music. The music scene in Costa Mesa is consistently good, without all the bar fights you get in other parts of Orange County. Take it from a music-obsessed fanatic, Costa Mesa is the place to be.

“I always say the best places on earth feel like a breath of fresh air, Costa Mesa feels that way to me. I love it here – it’s home.”

A big “thank you” to Creme Tangerine Records, and Parker Macy, for spending the day with us. (And hey, let us know about that soundtrack, will ya’?) ♥

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to support I Heart Costa Mesa, here is our Patreon.

About The Author

The Mesa Maven

The Mesa Maven is a writer, entrepreneur, community organizer and - most importantly - Costa Mesa Superfan!!! She's simply mad for this Mesa On The Coast and all the creative, independent, amazing, everyday things happening in our sunny backyard. The Maven lives with her husband, two kids and guinea Costa Mesa, of course!

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