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Electric Fetus Serves Eclectic Customers For 30 Years

Music retailing is in a never-ending state of flux. Formats change with regularity and tastes seem to change every hour. One thing, however, has remained constant for three decades: If you hear it, want it, and have to find it, in Minnesota, the Electric Fetus is the place to go.

Witnessing its 30th Anniversary this year, Electric Fetus points to several reasons for its success.

Give some of the credit to the name. Owner Keith Covart said he and his partner came up with the name because "it actually made sense in 1968." He can rattle off some of the dubious distinctions the name has brought.

"It was singled out as the worst name for a business in a national newspaper contest, by National Lampoon, and by author Naseem Javed in his book, Naming For Power," Covart notes. "But, hey, they remember the name Electric Fetus."

Give some more credit to the inventory. The Fetus is known for its terrific selection, which includes all manners of great music, clothing, posters, postcards, jewelry, and gifts.

Give even more credit to the Fetus's unique history of employing individuals true to the business-musicians, club and radio deejays, and music journalists. The employees are as loyal to the store as its customers.

Or, just give credit to the fact that for 30 years, the Fetus has served the eclectic music customer.

"We sell 1,000 pieces of music a day; and each piece is different," states Steve Pearson, buyer and manager for Electric Fetus. "This is quite unique for a store our size."

It's no wonder Bazaar magazine last year singled out Electric Fetus as the Twin Cities' best music retailer and one of the "best places in America to shop."

"Many music lovers have shopped exclusively at the Fetus because they know they can find anything they want here," Pearson said. "We're not pigeon-holed into any one kind of music."

The store first opened its doors on the West Bank of Minneapolis in 1968, and moved to its current home at 2000 Fourth Ave. South in 1972. It since opened two branches in St. Cloud and Duluth.

The 1998 Electric Fetus is bigger, snazzier, better-stocked and more stylish than ever. Yet it retains all of its old down-home charm. Jazz, Blues, Reggae, Folk, Country, Worldbeat section, reissues, and a great catalog store have been the Fetus's mainstay for 30 years.

The company celebrated its milestone in grand style June 10-14. Everything in the store was 20 percent off. It also sponsored at Midway Stadium the "KQ Blues Fest," which ran in conjunction with the final day of the sale. Headliners included Corey Stevens, Jimmie Vaughan and Robben Ford.

Free commemorative T-shirts and Electric Fetus CDs were given away, consisting of exclusive, not-for-sale compilations from 1968 (Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, The Band, Al Green, and a previously unreleased track from Santana) and some of the hottest new rising stars of 1998 (Semisonic, Esthero, Caramel, Grant Lee Buffalo, and more).

"The best part of the celebration was just seeing old customers," said Covart, noting that Electric Fetus advertised that anyone who brought in the oldest receipt from the store would win $150. The person who won? "One guy brought in a cancelled check from June of 1968."

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