When I was a young girl my friends and I spent most of our hard earned money buying records. And when we weren’t shopping for the latest and greatest album, we spent hours spinning our treasures and studying the liner notes and album covers. Your record collection spoke volumes about your personality. The love affair with vinyl seemed like it would go on forever. As time went by, my friends and I began moving away from our hometown and with each move our boxes of albums became fewer and fewer. Our sound systems used to be the first thing that we set up in a new apartment, but after a few moves we quit unpacking the turntables, speakers and records. Then the record stores stopped selling records and only sold CD’s. The advent of the compact disc in the 1980s cut into the popularity of vinyl records. Vinyl records left the mainstream around 1991. CD’s were also much easier to store, move and most of us bought into the idea that CD’s sounded better. It wasn’t very long before we became addicted to purchasing I-Tunes. We started to compete with each other on how many songs we had downloaded to our I-pods and smart phones.
As interest in records diminished, the record stores dwindled to almost non-existence. There were some record-loving holdouts who would scour the second hand shops for used records and a quiet resurgence began to happen with a renewed interest in the artwork of an album and the ability to read the lyrics on the liners and the realization that records really do sound different than digitally produced music. A funny thing started to happen. As you were picking through a pile of records at your local Goodwill store, younger people started to show up and were also buying the “great finds” that you were looking for. You couldn’t be angry that the guy next to you just put his hand on a copy of Woodstock that was on your list of “must have” albums. You were just so thrilled that another generation was starting to get interested in records.
The Vinyl Record Revival
Vinyl records fell out of favor between 1988 and 1991. There has been a renewed interest and increased sales of records since 2006. Sales of vinyl in the United States in early 2009 showed that the sales doubled in 2008 with 1.88 million sold and approximately 2.8 million sold in 2010. According to Nielsen SoundScan data, vinyl record sales in 2014 were 9.2 million, up 52 percent from 2013. It is awesome to see popular musicians today selling a ton of records. Jack White’s 2014 Lazaretto album sold over 87,000 copies. Annie Lennox’s 2014 release of Nostalgia was on back order for about a month. And Sam Smith’s 2014 album, In the Lonely Hour, which won 4 Grammys this year, is flying off the shelves. Also noteworthy, among the top selling vinyl albums in 2014 were reissues from the past like The Beatles Abbey Road and Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Legend, which both sold over 37,000 in 2014.
Along with the increased interest in purchasing records, is a revival in actual record shops. Mark your calendars – Record Store Day is an internationally celebrated day observed the third Saturday of April each year. When I first saw Downtown Sound show up on 4th Street in July of 2012 I was ecstatic. At the time, I was not certain that there would be enough interest in old records to support this new business. I also did not know if the owners had what it takes to develop a successful business. I have been watching the business, with great interest, since it opened and I love spending time looking through their collection of albums. I was recently in the shop looking for birthday present and got a chance to speak with one of the owners, Veronica. Usually when I am talking to business owner, I tell them about the assistance they can get at the Loveland Center for Business Development (LCBD). By the end of the conversation I was ready to ask her to be a counselor for our program. Their business practices are on target and to be commended. I assumed that the idea for the business was Veronica’s. I could not have been more wrong. When Veronica and her husband decided they wanted to start a business, they weren’t quite sure what that business would be. Their daughter, Lizz, thought they should consider opening a vintage record store. I was quite surprised that a young girl would have that much interest in old records and have the foresight to see that the record world was reinventing itself in a very positive way. On another visit to the shop, on a Monday afternoon, there were scads of customers filing through the bins of records. I was simply amazed that there was so much activity, on what is normally a slow day for many retail stores. Kudoz to Downtown Sound – 330 E. 4th Street in Loveland.
If you haven’t been in the shop, Downtown Sound sells vinyl records (both new and vintage), vintage turntables, guitars and amplifiers and they also do repairs. Check out the ceiling when you go. Veronica had boxes of red vinyl records. She used them to embellish the ceiling and it is a great look.