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Sales Of Vinyl Records And Turntables On The Rise

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, April 18, 2013

Twenty-seven year old Paul Rios loves digging for vinyl.

Paul Rios: "Where I'm coming from it's just, you know, basically scavenging for records."

Rios is flipping through stacks of used vinyl LPs at a little shop tucked into an alleyway of Old Sacramento. It's called Brooks Novelty Antiques and Records. The walls here are plastered with vintage album covers. Rios spots a record by one of his favorite artists.

Paul Rios: "I do like Brian Eno a lot. So I might have to get this."

Rios wears black framed glasses that match his well-coiffed black hair. He says his love for vinyl discs goes back to when he was a kid in the 1990s playing with his dad's record collection.

Paul Rios: "We used to just kind of basically destroy them because when I grew up I was listening to a lot of hip hop so we had a notion of what records were and deejaying and all that kind of thing. So we would play around with them and scratch them up basically."

Rios has between 250 and 300 records in his collection. He listens to digital music too but likes vinyl because it's relatively cheap to get a used record and because of the format's aesthetics.

Paul Rios: "You look at the art on some of these records and then mp3s you get little pictures of it but it's not the same as holding it up and seeing the art."

Rios regularly makes the rounds at other record stores in Sacramento including a store on Broadway called - Records. Store Manager Ben Johnson says many of his customers are just kids.

Ben Johnson: "We sell a lot of records to people who are probably between the ages of 15 to 25, even younger people getting into it.

Johnson points out that nationwide retailers like Target are selling portable turntables now. And what records are the kids buying?

Ben Johnson: "I'm always surprised how well classic rock stuff still sells; like a 15 year old kid grabbing Led Zeppelin records - that seems to be one of the most popular styles."

This store is located only a few hundred feet away from where Tower Records founder Russ Solomon first started selling records in his father's drug store. In fact this building used to be Tower's video store back in the 1980s.

Ben Johnson: "Everyone remembers Tower so it's really cool that even though Tower's gone that these buildings are all still occupied by retailers doing the same type of thing."

Another music retailer doing the same type of thing is Rob Fauble. His midtown store - The Beat - has been in business for more than 30-years.

Fauble's looking through a box that's just arrived of T-shirts and promotional items for the upcoming Record Store Day.

Rob Fauble: "There's a cool little Beatles bag in here somewhere…don't tell anyone but I snatched one for my daughter already, but otherwise they're all here."

Fauble says vinyl sales at his store have been growing by about 25% each year…which mirrors a nationwide trend.

Nielsen Soundscan data show 2012 was the fifth straight year of growth for vinyl record sales. Fauble says the demand isn't just coming from young hipsters but from baby boomers who never gave up on the format.

Rob Fauble: "The vinyl is taking over the store. The selection of new CDs is shrinking, it's either not selling or there are not as many available. But the amount of new records and quality used records keeps growing."

Fauble recently began selling turntables both new and vintage models.

Rob Fauble: "We also have the needles and cartridges for people. There's a nice guy just on the next block here he can take your old turntables and get them going again."

That "nice guy" is Luis Galvez. He restores and sells turntables, reel to reel machines and other audio equipment at his store - Stereo Advisor. On this day, he's testing an amplifier.

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Luis Galvez: "This is usually used to adjust the level of the recordings."

Galvez - who is originally from Peru - says business is growing by about 15% a year. He attributes most of that to the resurgence of vinyl.  

Luis Galvez: "Customers are coming. They are looking for old vintage audio because for them they sound more mellow than the new surround sound receivers."

Back at the used record store in Old Sacramento, vinyl lover Paul Rios says sound quality isn't a big deal for him.

Paul Rios: "The typical stereotype of the collector is the audiophile the guy who's got hi-fi equipment. But I mean I have just a really simple set up."

Rios is planning to hit the shops this Saturday on Record Store Day…scavenging for vinyl…including any clean copies of some of those records he scratched up when he was a kid.

Paul Rios: "One of those was a Neil Young record that I really like, I'm a big Neil Young fan so I definitely searched out for a couple of those."  

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