Monday, November 3, 2008

A Record Store that Closed Earlier this Year is Reopening Because of the Demand for VINYL

PAWTUCKET, R.I.—Before compact discs, before the music file sharing Web site Napster and before the iPod came along—the main way the world listened to music at home was with a diamond stylus on a vinyl record.

“Technology had a major impact in sales. Sales decreased incredibly, and I thought it was all done. I thought it was over,” said Luke Renchan, of Luke’s Record Exchange.

Luke’s, in business since 1979, with more than 1 million different records in stock spanning 50 years, was able to weather the storms of cassette tapes and CDs. But then the computer killed his business with online fire sharing.

“First year, we saw a 50 percent decline. I probably saw a 10 to 25 percent decline over the next three to four years, and then it bottomed out,” Renchan said. “I tried everything I could and nothing seemed to work.”

But then something happened when he was getting ready to close the doors for good in May.

“The final week was such a huge week in sales, and I already started getting that feeling that maybe it’s not over,” Renchan said. “My language changed from ‘closing’ at the beginning of the last week to ‘I’m not sure what I’m doing.’ So, I left it as a question mark.”

In those six months, with vinyl record sales—in the analog format—booming and CD sales—in the digital format—slumping, Luke decided to give the old store one more try.

“The customers came forth and spoke, and they’ve changed my mind. They brought me back,” Renchan said. “Analog sound is a much better sound than digital is. When you ‘digital’ something, you’re losing something in the process.”

Renchan said part of the reason behind the resurgence in vinyl: You can’t find the music anywhere else.

On Saturday, Luke’s will be back in business, with all the old stuff and a lot of the new stuff stocked by the record manufacturers, too.

“They’re going to be producing more vinyl. They’re bringing titles back that have been out of print for many years. They’re bringing titles in that have never been in print,” Renchan said. “I want it to work. I feel it’s going to work.”

Renchan hopes to prove you can go back in time and that the old does become new again.

Sales of vinyl records doubled from 3 million to 6 million copies between 2006 and 2007, according to the music technology Web site Sales of turntables increased 80 percent in the same time period.



  1. Same thing happened out here in California. A major CD retailer in my town shut its doors, and a local shop moved in. The local shop has a massive vinyl selection, and has been doing great. On my website, I get tons of younger Gen-Y and Millenial kids coming by looking for music on vinyl. It's coming back, for sure.

  2. What's the name of that local shop that moved in?