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Jan. 24, 2022

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Demand for vinyl comes full circle at Vancouver record store

By , Columbian staff writer
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A copy of the album "Fearless Taylor's Version" by Taylor Swift is among the vinyl records for sale at Everybody's Music, as seen on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 5, 2022. Modern era LP sales records were broken over the holiday.
A copy of the album "Fearless Taylor's Version" by Taylor Swift is among the vinyl records for sale at Everybody's Music, as seen on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 5, 2022. Modern era LP sales records were broken over the holiday. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Vinyl is a fully immersive experience, says Joel Mulligan.

“You’re not just hitting play on a playlist and walking away. Along with listening to the music, you have to actually touch it. You pick it up. You flip sides. You’re looking at the cover art or reading the credits on the back or whatever they put there,” said the owner of Everybody’s Music in, at 1801 D St., Suite 2, in downtown Vancouver. “It really just draws you in more than the other mediums, I think.”

Vinyl sales set a modern-era record last month, with more than 2.11 million records being sold in the week leading up to Christmas, according to Billboard via MRC data.

“Literally, last month was the busiest December I’ve ever had. It’s crazy,” said Miki Rodgers, owner of 1709 Records, at 1709 Broadway in downtown Vancouver.

“We definitely have seen the growth,” said Terry Currier, Vancouver resident and owner of Music Millennium, at 3158 E. Burnside St, in east Portland.

Vinyl has been increasing in popularity for years.

“Even during the pandemic in 2020, there was a 118 percent increase in vinyl sales in the United States,” said Currier.

“Vinyl has closed the generation gap. Kids discovered records in their parents’ basements. Kids discovered them in their grandparents’ basements,” said Currier. He often sees young people in his store shopping with parents and grandparents, all buying the same music.

For lovers of vinyl, it’s not just the experience of playing the record that attracts them. There’s also enjoyment in collecting.

“They do a lot of fun pressings now,” said Mulligan. “There’s a lot of colored vinyl, picture discs, and special editions that have previously unreleased tracks coming out.

“There’s a lot of things that are drawing people into it,” he added.

Rodgers’ 1709 Records sells only vinyl. She’s seen demand for vinyl increase since she opened her shop nearly seven years ago and even before then — but during the pandemic, demand exploded.

“Oh, it’s ridiculous,” she said. So many people were buying records and turntables earlier in the pandemic that, Rodgers said, the turntable manufacturers were struggling to keep up with demand.

When so many businesses were closed to in-store shopping in 2020, Rodgers was still able to ship her products. This spring, however, demand skyrocketed. “There are some records that I haven’t had since May of this year, which I should be able to regularly get,” she said.

Rodgers said that with the increase in demand, manufacturers are still trying to figure out which albums to press, how many to make, whose to press first and if there should be colors.

“There’s so much that factors into a retail business, especially vinyl,” she said.

Vinyl isn’t appealing only to those wanting to listen to jazz or classic rock anymore, either.

“I saw a lot more people out looking for records and people looking for a lot wider variety of records,” said Mulligan, adding that one of his best sellers is hip-hop. “In past years, they’re always looking for big names — your Beatles, your Led Zeppelin, your Nirvana — that kind of stuff. But people were really looking both at the more obscure and just wanting all styles of music on vinyl.”

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