Toronto record store aims to create safe space for women to learn about music

As the popularity of vinyl continues to rise, Lisa Pereira wants to see more female representation in Toronto's record industry.

Female Treble is 1 of the only female-owned record stores in the city

Lisa Pereira says she has always been drawn to vinyl and has been thinking about opening up her own store for over a decade. (Talia Ricci/CBC)

Whether it's dusting off old vinyl or venturing to local music stores to start a new collection —  there's no doubt records are on the rise.

As the industry booms, Lisa Pereira wants to make her mark as a music lover and as a woman.

Pereira says she's been considering opening her own store for over a decade and recently set up shop out of Unlovable, a bar at Dundas and Dufferin streets, with Female Treble.

"What I wanted to do was create a space that women would feel comfortable going into," Pereira said. As someone who's been one of few women working in another record shop for years, she says she's experienced some sexism in the industry.

"I have a lot of friends who are female DJs or own their own labels, or work in the music field in some way. A lot of them have said to me either they felt uncomfortable going into certain record stores in the city or sometimes guys would be really rude to them," Pereira said.

At home, Pereira's shelves are stacked with thousands of titles. She recalls skipping class in high school to scour Salvation Army locations in Scarborough during the '90s when people were trading in their record collections for CDs.

While some people were tossing them away, she was acquiring hundreds of albums — and at a low cost.

Pereira says she's seen some big improvements in the way women are perceived in the industry, but she still believes there is a need in Toronto for a spot like hers.

"There won't be any judgements here," Pereira said. "There won't be any bad feelings if you don't know how to use a record player. You can totally come in here and I'll show you how to use a record player. I'll help you hook one up. I'll tell you where you can find a needle and stuff."

Pereira also has a second location at Eyesore Cinema at Bloor and Dufferin streets. 

'I know how uncomfortable it can be'

Teresinha Costa is a radio host and DJ in Toronto who exclusively spins vinyl at bars. She says she fully supports Pereira's new shop.

"I think it's amazing that she's doing something like this for the community," Costa said. "She's representing herself as a strong female."

Teresinha Costa has been going to record shows since she was 16 years old and prefers to spin vinyl when she DJs. (Jonathan Hall)

Costa says she's experienced her own set of challenges in the male-dominated industry. Although it hasn't stopped her from pursuing her music career and attending shows, she's glad to see a space like this that offers a safe environment.

"I know how uncomfortable it can be. It's nice to know someone is making an effort for everyone to feel welcome," Costa said.

Costa says over the years there's been a huge increase of women involved in Toronto's music scene and like Pereira — is always willing to help young women navigate the industry when they're starting out.

"To be in a place to be able to help people is great," Costa said. "I love seeing females getting out there and doing what they love and not limiting themselves because they feel like they can't."