Triple J’s turns 10

When Jordi Mikeli and Jeremy Jones met, they probably had no idea that their names, fused in marriage, would eventually form the title of a fixture for Whitehorse's fans of loud music, piercings and tattoos.

When Jordi Mikeli and Jeremy Jones met, they probably had no idea that their names, fused in marriage, would eventually form the title of a fixture for Whitehorse’s fans of loud music, piercings and tattoos.

This year is the tenth anniversary of Triple J’s opening its doors to the public.

As with many small businesses, Triple J’s started with a mix of passion, frustration and vision. At the time, Jeremy was working for the Department of Education, while Jordi was at the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. Both felt the need for something different.

The first solution was academic escapism. Jordi wanted to pursue law and Jeremy had his eye on a teaching degree. But their shared dream was to open a music store with a “punk rock esthetic,” serving as “a counter-culture hub” for Yukon.

Triple J’s Music Cafe opened on May 3, 2004 at 41218 Fourth Ave, in the space beside what is now Antoinette’s Restaurant. From the beginning, the store filled a niche for Yukoners. Customers could special order their favourite heavy metal, stoner rock, alternative, electronic, or punk album while they ordered their coffee.

“We knew already we had the best special order service in the North,” Jordi explains. “That was something we always prided ourselves on. Our mantra is, if it exists in this world we can track it down and get it in for you.”

Building the business wasn’t easy for the Joneses. The couple went to half time at their respective jobs to work at the cafe. Jordi also took on a third job, working as Yukon’s first female resident disk jockey for the first three years of the business. Working under the handle, “3JDJ,” she played one night a week at the Capital and the Kopper King.

In 2009, Triple J’s moved into its current location at 308 Elliot St. The move allowed them to expand the store’s existing tattoo and piercing studio, boosting revenues and bringing more variety to Yukoners.

“We have guest artists from all over the world that have been here that just had the draw to the North,” says Jordi. Jen Densmore, Triple J’s original piercer in 2007, is now back on the roster.

More space meant more goods. Music on offer grew to include blues, jazz, folk, pop and world music. And those looking for locally produced music can find a deep collection.

A large portion of the second floor of the building, meanwhile, was renovated to become Gallery 22, a space for artists both local and from Outside to showcase their talents.

Customers now have over 200 different kinds of products from which to choose. “Anything you can throw a logo on,” says Jordi, from clothing to accessories. There is also a large selection of pipes, bongs and other marijuana paraphernalia.

The store also supports Jordi’s passion for animal welfare. She’s used the shop as a platform to produce over 200 events, mostly to the benefit of animals, the best known of which is the Sunstroke Music Festival.

Six hundred people came to the first festival, where punk rockers No Means No headlined for a measly $500. Now in its ninth year, the event attracts musicians who support the animal welfare cause from around the world and enjoys crowds of over 2,000. This $60,000 event receives no government funding and is completely volunteer-based.

After sitting on the board of Yukon Humane Society for six years, Jordi started Kona’s Coalition last March. Named in memory of her late canine companion, the non-profit uses Triple J’s as a base of operations and is dedicated to improving animal welfare in Yukon through education, advocacy, financial assistance, fostering and support. Fundraising efforts have garnered over $35,000 in the last year.

One might look at Triple J’s and wonder about its sustainability. It is, after all, a music store in a world of iTunes downloads. But to its co-founder, the store sells much more than that.

“I often say we sell cool,” Jordi says. “You need to be immersed in the demographic that you’re selling to. The reason we’ve been able to outlast the transition from CDs is the fact that we sell records. If we just sold CDs we would’ve gone the way of CD Plus. People of all ages can come in and find their favourite band on CD, on LP, on a patch, a sticker, poster, a hoodie. It’s so much more than one avenue. Because we know our customers by name, because we’re always pushing the envelope. We’re always thinking outside the box.”

Juggling the store, the gallery, the tattoo and piercing studio and Kona’s Coalition is a labour of love, Jordi says. And it’s love, whether it be for music or for your own four legged companion, that she hopes drives you to come visit her shop.

“I encourage people that when they’re spending their dollars, whether it’s here or Walmart, or even on Amazon, that they know where their dollar is going and that they make it count. If they support Triple J’s they’re supporting all these other endeavours.”

Contact Alistair Maitland at

alistair@yukon-news.com

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