For The Record: Ragin’ Records


Photo by: Ricardo A. Reyna

A photo of the front of Ragin’ Records store located in Tower District.

In the heart of Fresno’s Tower District is a record store that has endured the test of time in an ever-changing industry where streaming services now dominate. 

Ragin’ Records is a local record store that has been serving its customers “on and off” since 1988.  

Paul Cruikshank, 57, a former Fresno City College student, started Ragin’ Records in the 80s and has watched the record industry change and shape itself into what it is today. 

Growing up a skater and surfer in southern California, he naturally made his way toward punk rock music. 

“I started surfing and skateboarding in like third grade, so in the mid to late seventies,” Cruikshank said. “By 1980 it really went haywire, you know, I saw my first punk-rocker in person.” 

Cruikshank described how, at the time, the transition from skater to punk rocker was virtually inevitable. 

“At the time in southern California if you were a surfer or skateboarder you turned into a punk rocker overnight,” Cruikshank said. “So you know, there were hundreds of us in our high school by 1980… by 1981 it was down to 40 of us.”

The relationship between vinyl and punk rock went hand-in-hand for Cruikshank.

“So vinyl just came right along with punk rock,” Cruikshank said. “I would go to shows and I was picking up really seven-inch singles.”

The decision to start a record store was the result of him throwing local punk shows after moving to Fresno and wanting the latest punk records that local record stores at the time didn’t carry. 

“By 88’ I started Ragin’ Records because I couldn’t find what I wanted here,” Cruikshank said. “I started Ragin’ Records, I was promoting punk shows, I was going to Fresno City College and I was working. I was doing all four things.”

The name “Ragin’ Records” comes from a saying that Cruikshank and his friends would say when they were younger. 

“We were young, so you know ‘let’s get together and rage’ you know that’s what we would say,” Cruikshank said. “And then there was a record by the Minutemen, I’m sorry, Firehose who were the Minutemen called Ragin’ Full-On that I really liked.” 

The decision was made to close the original version of the store back in 1995 because of where the industry was heading as well as one major store’s effect on local record shops. 

“By 92’ CDs had pretty much taken over, but we also had a cd store but I wasn’t into CDs, it wasn’t fun so I had no passion there,” Cruikshank said. “ But once we got into CDs, Best Buy in particular cut in probably 20,000 CDs in the front of their store and sold them for less than we can buy them for so they ended up putting basically all the local record stores out of business overnight.”

After a 24-year hiatus, the decision to reopen the record store was made in 2019 after a resurgence of vinyl sales began. 

“I always stayed collecting. My record collection got up to 13,000 punk records you know, so for me and my crowd of people we’ve always, you know, friends all over the world, collected records.” Cruikshank said. “ I don’t know anyone really that well that started collecting CDs or anything, maybe cassettes.” 

Cruikshank said the decision to reopen the store was inevitable. 

“I would have probably started the record store again even if the resurgence hadn’t been there.” Cruikshank said. “But ironically, this store does better with CDs as a niche thing than when it was all vinyl records.

Tim Morris, who has been shopping at Ragin’ Records since 2019, says his experience at the record store was nostalgic. 

“It’s great, it reminds me of my childhood going to the small record store buying hard to find vinyls,” Morris said. 

Morris explained what local record stores like Ragin’ Records mean to him 

“Everything is so easy to access now,” Morris said. “You go on Spotify and every record collection is there. Growing up for me you had to save money just to buy one album. You were looking for just the right album and then you invested a lot of time and money in it. Coming to this record store reminds me of those days.”

A Photo of Paul Cruikshank (Center) hosting an event for the release of Metallica’s new album 72 Seasons at Ragin’ Records on April 13. Photo by Ricardo A. Reyna