Nothing Bland about Jim

Nothing Bland about Jim
Nothing Bland about Jim
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Jim Bland may be the most unsung hero on RVA’s music scene. Most know him as the founder/owner of Plan 9 Music in Carytown (named after the camp movie classic “Plan 9 from Outer Space”). While that store, and a 2nd location in Charlottesville, may be his primary concentration, Jim’s interests in music reach much farther than just selling CDs, vinyl and related media.


The less visible side of Jim’s support includes serving on the board of JAMinc and as a member of the Richmond Folk Festival artist selection committee. JAMinc is well known as a promoter of music and the performing arts, whose mission is “to open minds, hearts and ears to music deserving a wider audience through education, performance and support.” Besides their concerts at In Your Ear recording studio, JAMinc has a school outreach program that’s exposed 50,000+ local K – 12 students to music they may never have been aware of.


Their outreach also includes artists that come to Richmond as part of the Richmond Folk Festival, which brings a diverse lineup of roots music to 200,000 attendees annually. Jim’s support of the festival doesn’t stop with helping to select the music. Since the beginning, Plan 9 has served as the merchandiser of the artists CDs and festival related merch, all with minimal monetary gain for the store. For Jim it’s about the love of the music.



Throughout Plan 9’s history, Jim has worked to support local and touring acts with special sales promotions, their own record label (Planetary Records) and in-store mini concerts – all designed to drive interest in the store, as well as the artists and their music. Plan 9’s most recent in-store concert featured Laura Veirs, who was in town for the final show of this year’s Friday Cheers.



Merch2Plan 9 celebrates its 33rd year in business this month. It started in the heydays of retail music sales and Jim grew the business to 10 outlets in Richmond, Charlottesville, Roanoke and the Carolinas. When the Internet happened, brick and mortar stores were hit hard by the download phenomenon and many stores closed. More recently, vinyl became hip again and is the savior of many music stores. It created a niche business for old and new releases, as well as related items like turntables. As Jim says, “When times get tough, you stick with your core business and hope it’ll get you through.”


Asked about the future of his business, Jim says his sights are realistically a bit lower than in the beginning, “I’m optimistic there’s a basic business for us, that we can hopefully continue to make a living….Nobody’s getting rich at this anymore. We just hope to have a job we can love.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty good “Plan” to me.



1 Comment

  1. One of my heroes for sure! Has done me some important solids through the years. And a kind/nice human being!

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