There is a definite resurgence in vinyl.
Those in the know, say the renewed interest has people flocking to record fairs.
“It is definitely starting to become very, very popular. At one time the ’90s in larger centres it was popular, but we’re seeing in smaller communities, and everywhere actually, people are really into vinyl,” shared Todd Gledhill owner of Waxman Records in North Bay.
“I think a big part of it is nostalgia. There is definitely the collectability. I think that people are enjoying having physical media once again. It has almost come around full circle. With all of the downloading and streaming and stuff like that, people just like to be able to hold the music that they love, in their hands.”
Gledhill says people tend to gravitate towards music from the ’70s through to the ’90s, although there is a certain demographic that is looking for a trip down memory lane searching for the popular sounds of the ’50s and ’60s.
And of course, there are those looking for today’s music.
“Every genre is popular. In terms of jazz, I think some of the earliest jazz is not as popular. You know, Miles Davis and some of those guys tend to be a little bit popular,” said Gledhill.
“I think for a lot of collectors who are getting back into it, it seems like the household names if you will, are the best sellers.”
The 6th annual Spring Record Fair hosted by Waxman Records attracted all ages, from those in their early teens starting to discover music to people in their 60s and 70s wanting to reconnect with the music they grew up hearing.
Jennifer Martel intently searched through the many bins of albums, together with her 9-year-old son Henry, looking for anything that spoke to her.
“We like to feel things, to be able to see if we want to purchase them. So, we like to look at albums, pull them out, and take a good long look. We’re not looking for anything specific. We purchase what we feel like purchasing,” laughs Martel.
“I actually bought a comedy album so far, an old Lenny Bruce album, and my son bought an Eminem album. So we’re kind of all over the place. We’re definitely music lovers in our home, and old souls because we listen to old stuff as well.”
Henry enjoys the artistry of the album covers.
“They look cool. And I like when some of them open like a book.”
Most of the vendors were from out of town, places like Toronto, Ottawa, and Sudbury, selling records and memorabilia which included posters and old magazines, cassettes and 45s.
“I’ve seen dollar bins, $5 bins, and there is some really valuable stuff here. Japanese imports that are in really pristine condition could fetch upwards of $100. Collectors are serious about what they’re purchasing,” said Gledhill.
It was an early start to the day for vendor Jerry Popiuk who drove from Oro-Mendonte, located between Barrie and Orillia to sell his collection of albums.
He has been making the journey to this record fair since it began.
“This is my favourite show. I only do three a year. I do Sudbury and Barrie and this one. This is my favourite. I noticed when I first started doing this, it was older people. Now, it is getting younger and younger, and sometimes you get parents with their children coming here.
Albums are his passion.
“I only part with them if I have a duplicate in my collection. The quality of the sound is one of the things that has people buying albums again. They sound far better than a CD does. I specialize in the ’70s and ’80s. I’ve got a lot of the newer stuff, but I don’t know it. I like the sixties, the sixties rock and roll, the Doors, and the blues.”
Toronto’s Sheldon Frymerman brought an assortment of collectibles, vinyl mostly, albums, 45s, magazine’s, posters, toys.
“Anything music related I sell. People are mostly looking for classic rock on vinyl. The younger generation has discovered vinyl and they’re buying what their mother’s and fathers listen to believe it or not,” said Frymerman.
“I find it amazing that they’re listening to stuff that was out before they were even born. And I wonder ‘Where are they hearing some of this stuff?’ But it is incredible what they’re picking up on the internet, on the radio, on TV commercials and movies. It is phenomenal.”
The vendor is realistic about the future.
“The resurgence is going to slow down at some point, it has to. I think there’s that feeling that CDs when they came out, were better than albums. Now people like albums better than CDs. I personally have a belief in the next couple of years that CDs will make a bit of a resurgence because vinyl is getting a little pricey.”
People are now starting to look at their record collections as potential sources of revenue.
“I think this is one of the biggest misunderstandings with people who are getting back into vinyl. Everyone thinks that because records are popular, that they’re worth a lot of money, but that’s not really the case,” explained Gledhill.
“What makes records valuable is obviously, demand. There is a supply and demand, but ultimately things that are rare, and in great condition are typically worth more money. And obviously the origin of pressing determines value.”
Research will help determine if a particular album is rare, but Gledhill recommends reaching out to a professional for an evaluation.
“A lot of people seem to gravitate towards eBay and they’re just picking out the highest prices on stuff, and they think that’s what they have. But ultimately, you really have to look at the record, determine all of the details to really figure out what you have.”
Stereo systems once tucked away in storage, are now being pulled out and dusted off, ready to entertain once again.
“There seems that there’s a certain age group that may have held on to them or are familiar with vintage equipment. Obviously, people who are just getting into it have very little, they’re just learning. As a store owner, I recommend something new for people getting into it, because there are less components, less chance of things breaking down because that’s ultimately what it comes down to,” said Gledhill.
“If you’re dealing with used equipment, then a lot of times you’re tinkering with it and that becomes a hobby almost in itself.”