Jon Lottman needs a record store. Strictly speaking, he already has one—Spin Time Records, which he runs, specializes in music from the DC area (as well as his other deep love, reggae). But it’s an online shop at the moment, and Lottman wants to turn it into a physical space.
In the meantime, the virtual store—which opened last June—has quickly become one of Washington’s most exciting retailers, offering an impeccably curated selection of DMV sounds. Place an order on the website and Lottman will ship your purchases—or, if you happen to live near Capitol Hill, he’ll walk your order over himself.
Recently, we stopped by the rowhouse that he operates from (and also lives in—it’s the house where he grew up). Sitting in his upstairs store headquarters, with thousands of LPs on shelves surrounding his desk, Lottman came across as a classic enthusiast, recommending a string of records with such conviction that a reporter was compelled to produce his credit card and obtain a stack of albums.
Like so many other recent endeavors, Spin Time was born as a result of the pandemic, after Lottman’s previous gig—working as a videographer and documentary filmmaker focused on environmental issues—suddenly dried up. His newfound free time got him thinking about how to turn his hobby of buying and selling reggae records into a full-time occupation. Lottman quickly hit on the idea of specializing in local music, too. “Everybody knows Marvin Gaye’s from here, and Roberta Flack and go-go and punk and all that stuff,” he says. But there are tons of great records beyond the best-known DC music, and Lottman is eager to share them with the city—and the world. Check out the two albums Bo Diddley recorded in the District, for instance, or Miles Davis’s Live-Evil, which was partly recorded at the Cellar Door in Georgetown. The albums that jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd was involved with during his 1970s tenure at Howard University are favorites of Lottman’s as well.
While you can’t currently hang out and talk music with Spin Time’s proprietor in person, its site is designed to encourage browsing, with photos, genuinely helpful descriptions, and audio clips. Still, Lottman yearns to offer a real-world experience. “To really get people into the concept, I do have to open in person,” he says. Because turning music fans on to new tunes is kind of the point. In fact, Lottman would love it if customers would occasionally ask him to curate a whole collection for them. “I wish!” he says. “I’d go nuts.”
This article appears in the July 2022 issue of Washingtonian.