As music retailers disappear, Triple J's Music, Tattoos & Piercings celebrates its 10th anniversary
This story originally ran in the Fall 2014 (V8I3) edition of Yukon, North of Ordinary.
“I hate standing still,” says Jordi Mikeli-Jones, fidgeting in her chair. “We’re very dynamic, and you have to be versatile. I think it’s important to cater to more than one demographic. We’ve seen what has happened to CD Plus and HMV—I think they lacked that personal service, and that’s really what we offer.”
It’s been 10 years since Mikeli-Jones and her husband, Jeremy, opened their own music shop in Whitehorse. Then it was known as Triple J’s Music Café, but has since rebranded itself Triple J’s Music, Tattoos & Piercing.
“It’s important to know your customer—knowing what their tastes are and always asking for suggestions on how we can improve, and then taking that feedback and putting it into what we’re doing,” she explains. “Music was initially the focus, but we could see there was a demand for reputable tattoos and piercings."
Born in Cranbrook, B.C., Mikeli-Jones’ family moved to Whitehorse, in 1986, after spending a few years in Yellowknife, N.W.T. She studied business at Yukon College after high school, and eventually met Jeremy over a shared love of music.
She later toyed with the idea of enrolling in law school, and Jeremy looked at getting his teaching degree, but the couple decided to stay in Whitehorse and open their own small business, in 2004.
"I DECIDED THAT I DIDN'T NECESSARILY NEED TO BE RICH, BUT I WANTED TO BE HAPPY."
Triple J’s was built on their passion for music, a noticeable void in the retail market, and a desire to seize the moment. “I decided that I didn’t necessarily need to be rich, but I wanted to be happy,” Mikeli-Jones says, “and the energy and enthusiasm to open a small business wouldn’t always be there; whereas, I could always go to law school.”
The business began modestly in a small location on Fourth Ave. Mikeli-Jones describes it as having a “DIY, punk-rock aesthetic” that was very much influenced by its clientele.
“It was also a good forum for me to run my events out of,” she says. “I had been a DJ for 15 years, I had been doing events long before opening the business, and it just seemed like a natural progression to get the storefront going.”
Mikeli-Jones continued to DJ and the pair also worked part time at their existing government jobs during the early years.They persevered through adversity, as well as competition,when a CD Plus franchise opened on Main St. It wasn’t easy, but it was a challenge they were willing to take head-on.
“I have that rebellious attitude. When somebody tells me I shouldn’t or I can’t do it, I’m going to do it with fervour.”
In 2010, Triple J’s underwent a big change: the shop moved to its current two-storey location on Elliott St., enabling it to transform with the addition of Gallery 22 (an art-exhibition space) and expand its lucrative tattooing and piercing services.
Mikeli-Jones says she sees it as four businesses under one roof: music, tobacco paraphernalia, tattoos and piercings, and the gallery. Loyal staff members manage each element, which she says has been integral to the shop’s growth.
Beyond what specifically occupies the space, Mikeli-Jones also continues to use Triple J’s as a platform for her events and promotions, most notably the Sunstroke Music Festival, and as headquarters for her animal-assistance non-profit, Kona’s Coalition.
Music stores are a dying breed in the retail world. So much so, Triple J’s acts as a pseudo museum of the fallen, with display cases and cabinets purchased from local music shops that closed their doors. Mikeli-Jones says she’s not losing sleep over the changing industry.
“There are those collectors we love to see who have been buying vinyl for 30 or40 years and will continue to. And people still come in looking for cassettes,” she explains. “I don’t worry anymore.”
Over the past year, Triple J’s has expanded its vinyl selection, stocked turntables and other supplies, and created a local Record Club. Mikeli-Jones hints at having other tricks up her sleeve for 2015, but is mum on details. However, she is open about her goal to see the business live on for at least another 10 years, envisioning the couple’s toddler, Blue, taking the reigns down the line.
Looking back at when she graduated high school, Mikeli-Jones says she never thought she’d own a business in Whitehorse. She isn’t musically inclined, but wanted to find a place in the industry, and the past decade shows this couple has made a lasting impression. Y