New music store opens on East Johnson Street

Despite much adversity, local musician Maggie Denman opens up new record store in East Madison

Kadjata Bah, Reporter

This article originally ran in the November-December Eastside News; Reprinted with permission of Eastside News

On the corner of North and East Johnson streets, one may come across a short
path to an open door. Just past this door and down two flights of stairs lies Madison’s
newest record store, Boneset Records. A cozy and truly hidden gem owned and run by
local musician Maggie Denman, Boneset carries a carefully curated collection of vinyl,
cassette tapes, CDs and VHS for people of all tastes to enjoy.
Visitors are drawn to the comfy and eclectic atmosphere of the store, as well as
the music selection. Many are often excited to see Denman’s “Wall of VHS” and peruse
through vintage clothing from Return to Odd, a resale shop in Milwaukee. With
complimentary coffee, comfortable seating and fun lighting, Boneset quickly becomes
more than just a record store.
“I wanted it to be an experience being in here,” Denman said.
Denman, a Madison native, had plans to move beyond her hometown. But when
those plans were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, she turned to thinking about
the ways she could make Madison what she wanted it to be. That opportunity came
when Sugar Shack Records, one of Madison’s longest standing record stores, closed
suddenly in the spring. Denman had been a longtime employee of Sugar Shack and
inherited the store’s music collection from owner Gary Feest.
Though the technicalities of starting a business were a breeze, challenges came
in other forms.
“Moving thousands of items twice—I can’t thank my family and friends enough for
helping me with that,” Denman said.
After the items were in the store, she also faced the task of organizing and
curating her collection, taking inspiration from Mississippi Records, a store in Oregon.

“(Mississippi Records is) a very small shop,” she recalled from a recent trip to
Portland. “I had the idea that I can still have a small shop and have a very good
The store is in an almost constant state of change as Denman learns new things
about owning and running a record store. Many of Denman’s most valuable lessons
from her time working with Feest at Sugar Shack were put to the test while opening her
own store. Particularly, Denman learned patience—with herself and with her store.
“Gary worked really hard for many years to create his store. I’m trying to
remember that these things do take time,” she said.
As the time passes, Denman is frequently reminded of why she makes the effort.
She recounted one visit from a teen who stopped by Boneset with her mother, excited
to be in a woman-owned record store for the first time.
“Throughout everything being so difficult to open and working a full-time job
during the week, sometimes you get a little worn. It was very heartwarming and
reminded me a lot of when I was a kid—I didn’t go to any record stores that were owned
by women or non-men,” she said.
Being one of very few women, let alone women of color, owning a record store
was an overwhelming aspect of opening Boneset, Denman said. Having been part of
Madison’s music scene for several years, she was familiar with the stigma and
marginalization that comes with being a woman in male-dominated spaces. However,
she found support and inspiration in friends and other women featured on the website
Women in Vinyl.

From buying her first Blink-182 CD in middle school to evolving as a musician,
Denman’s love for music has been a steadfast part of her life. She describes Boneset
Records, yet another declaration of her passion, as an extension of herself — the vinyl
in the bins, the tapes on the shelves, the music on the speakers.
“(I am) reaffirmed that this is very genuinely who I am, what I like,” Denman said.