It’s true, we do. We sell vinyl records. By we, I mean me, Daren Revilla, owner of Revilla Grooves and Gear, my small staff, record show assistants, and the greater community of record dealers in the US and abroad. It seems crazy, I know. Records are old, really old. The earliest recordings to wax discs and cylinders date back to the middle of the 19th Century. Like I said, records are really old. With today’s ability to download or stream any song you’ve ever heard to a device smaller than a wallet, why would anyone want to deal with the time and energy it takes to purchase, clean and play a record. Then you have to sit, or at least be in one place to actually listen to the music the record produces. The entire idea of vinyl records is in direct opposition to how we consume music today. But still, we sell records. I think I know why.
The sound: I will not get into the Vinyl vs. CD vs. MP3 vs. HiDef file debate here. So often a preferred medium is a matter of taste and everyone is entitled to their opinion. For those of us who love records, the sound of Vinyl is huge part of the draw. Even within the realm of Vinyl enthusiasts, there is debate? Are pops and tics acceptable? Do they add to the ambience of the music and the experience? Are 180 gram pressings truly superior to regular record issues? Honestly these things don’t matter. There is room for everyone in this hobby. Personally, I love a clean sounding record. Surface noise is okay, but it needs to be below the music. Tics and pops make me crazy, but sometimes a record is so hard to find, I am able to ignore these issues. Vinyl sounds “warm”. Whether this is due to it’s analog nature, or this slight distortion of its output signal, my ears like it.
The Artwork: CD packaging was fun, once designers discovered they could create fold out cases and Gimmix covers with the smaller format, but there is just something about the 12” cover of a vinyl record. Labels like Blue Note, Prestige, Capitol, Warner Brothers, King, Starday and too many others to name, knew the cover was almost as important as the music. Over the decades much of the cover art of Vinyl LPs and 7” 45s has become iconic. Some are true national treasures. Find yourself a copy of Blue Train on Blue Note records and you’ll understand what I mean.
The Collecting: Since the shop has opened, I have seen many types of collectors digging in the crates. From casual to hardcore, the market for vinyl has grown. The casual collector will come in, browse the bins, get really excited when they see something they’d like to have, buy it with a smile and be on their way. These folks probably have fifty to one hundred records, each title something they really love and actually listen to. They won’t be dedicating all their free time to record hunting at shops and garage sales, but their vinyl collection is an important piece of their world and it makes them happy. The hardcore: that is a different story. The hardcore will go through every record in the genre in which they collect. They may go through every record in the store. They intend to listen to every record they purchase, but sometimes they just buy too many. The hardcore collector will have at least one thousand records, but more likely have 3000. They mistakenly buy doubles. They are always upgrading to a better, cleaner or earlier copy. Just when the hardcore collector finishes a run of a label, artist or genre, there is another infatuation to take its place. For the hardcore, vinyl isn’t a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. If you find yourself in this group, understand, I am one of you. ( I own a shop for goodness sake). Collecting is a blast at any level. It may just be the main draw to vinyl records. Seeing all those spines lined up on a shelf is a beautiful thing.
The Community: Of course having a sense of community is not unique to record collecting. Comics, sports, art, theater, church, family all offer that and more. But for those of us who live to dig, the friendships we make out in the field or in the dollar bins of our favorite shop can last for decades. I have friends I met in 1997 at my first record store job. Many of them now own shops and we trade records, gear and stories. Metal Dave, who works each and every record show with me, was originally a customer. I met Gregorious of HPRS fame at his garage sale. He has become a true friend and partner in growing my business. I’ve known the Vinyl Dog since 1995. We all met because of our mutual love of music and vinyl. This record thing is worldwide. Through Instagram, Facebook and Discogs, crate diggers are connected from Brooklyn, to Amsterdam, to Japan, Russia, Australia, the UK, China, Croatia and beyond. I’ve never left North America, but I’ve shipped records all over the world. Music is universal and Vinyl is the way we love to share it.
So yes, we sell records. And we wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.