Independent record shop owners are a tight-knit community, and when COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, closing virtually all brick-and-mortar businesses, store owners realized sticking together was the best path to survival.
Already operating on thin profit margins, record shops felt particularly vulnerable to long-term closures and losing touch with customers. The stores, however, stayed in close contact with each other. When they were able to open again a few months later, they did it in a coordinated fashion.
“We got together and we opened together, with the same rules on things like requiring masks and having sanitizers,” says Augie Maravilla, a long-time presence on the local record store scene who has run Rocket Records since 2016.
“It actually turned out pretty well for us,” he says. “Our loyal customers stayed loyal.”
Today, record stores specializing in selling used vinyl and other musical formats such as compact discs and cassette tapes — thought to be obsolete once digital downloads became prevalent in the early 2000s — are enjoying a major resurgence, with vinyl sales reaching sales figures not seen in 30 years.
“There’s a whole new generation of record buyers now,” Maravilla says.
Considered a traditionally strong area for record shops, due in part to being the home of Tower Records and founder Russ Solomon, the Capital Region is riding a new vinyl wave. Record aficionados have a wide variety of retailers in the region to choose from, with each store featuring its own idiosyncratic, nostalgic vibe.
Rick Daprato, owner of Delta Breeze Records on 10th Street, says there’s nothing that can touch the timeless sonic quality produced by vinyl records. “Records, they just have a warm sound that can’t be matched,” he says. “For me, they’re what I grew up with, and I love the covers and liner notes.”
With Record Store Day set for April 23, this is a great month to check out the inventory at these distinctive businesses, sample a record in the store, or even grab a beer or bite to eat while shopping. Here’s a look at some of those shops and the people who run them, including Rocket Records, Delta Breeze, Armadillo Music in Davis, Kicksville Vinyl & Vintage downtown, Pressed Record Café in Midtown and the erstwhile Brooks Novelty Antiques and Records in Old Sacramento.
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There was a moment leading up to 2013 when it looked as though the record store would join the dodo on the extinction list. Record sales were plummeting due to rampant pirating, digital sales became the primary metric and the major labels were scrambling to shut down the piracy, while appealing to the modern user. Then, reports began circulating that vinyl sales were up.
Pressed Record Cafe co-owners Dean Bardouka, Jon Blunck and James Williams have boldly chosen to specialize in three of Sacramento’s most populated business spaces.
9th Creation, Stockton’s legendary funk-disco-boogie band, is back together and recording again.
Jennifer Reason is the new host of Capital Public Radio’s midday classical show, where she gets to talk about classical music to an audience of other die-hard fans and, hopefully, open the minds of some new (read: younger) fans along the way.