Josh Cozby turned his personal record collection into a business. The Government Center opened in the North Side last week. Photo by Kristy Locklin.

For Josh Cozby’s 11th birthday all of his friends gave him vinyl records, adding to an already impressive music collection.

Today, the 46-year-old has more than 8,000 albums, which he’s now selling at his newly opened store, The Government Center, on the North Side.

“At a point, you have more records than you can possibly use,” he says. “I prefer to have the opportunity to talk to people about music and hear about what they like.”

Located at 519 E. Ohio Street, the shop sells new and used albums, CDs, cassettes and turntables, in addition to Cozby’s personal soundtrack.

Folks can come in to buy, sell or trade music spanning all genres, or just sit and relax at two listening stations set up in the back of the space, a former hair salon. Cozby is working to set up a lending library filled with records that aren’t collectible, along with thousands of CDs he’s amassed over the years.

But that’s just the beginning: By March, he plans to host live bands and other events at the store and to serve as a learning center where kids — and adults — can learn not just about records, but all aspects of music, such as composing and DJing. He’d also like to be a part of the Deutschtown Music Festival when it takes over the neighborhood July 12-13.

Photo by Kristy Locklin.

Cozby, who grew up on the West Coast, is a former high school English teacher and worked in youth development with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Although he’s no longer in front of a classroom, he hopes The Government Center will be a place where kids who grew up on MP3s and Spotify can get back to basics and appreciate the ritualistic pleasures of placing a needle on black vinyl.

Over the past decade, there’s been a vinyl resurgence, with new bands and young listeners alike embracing the medium.

“I want to build this organically around young people who want to do something creative,” he says. “It’s more exciting than having a bunch of old records.”

His father’s collection included classics from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and Bob Dylan, giving him a basic music primer. The first record Cozby ever purchased for himself was “Little Creatures” by Talking Heads.

But it was Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers who really set the tone for his adolescence. “The Government Center” is one of the band’s songs and a favorite of Cozby’s, hence the store’s name.

“When I bought records, I didn’t think of it as ‘collecting,’” he says. “Music is how I interact with the world, especially when you’re a kid and it’s confusing.”

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.