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Record Store Day has turned tables on vinyl sales

Independent retailers sell limited releases to die-hard music lovers

Vinyl fans will again gather for Record Store Day on April 22.
Joshua Schipper

Joshua Schipper

Whatzup Features Writer

Published April 5, 2023

Sales of vinyl records surpassed those of CDs in 2022, a first for the vintage format since 1987, according to a report from the RIAA. 

The resilience of independent record stores, the pandemic, and a new generation of listeners has reinvigorated this sector of the music industry, said Wooden Nickel Music owner Bob Roets.

According to the National Record Store Day website, Wooden Nickel and Welcome Back Records in Fort Wayne, Turn the Page Books & Music in Huntington, and Karma Records in Warsaw are among hundreds of independent record stores that will take part in Record Store Day on Saturday, April 22, selling limited vinyl releases of a deluge of artists ranging from Taylor Swift to Pearl Jam. 

Neat Neat Neat Records & Music remains closed following a fire in an upstairs apartment, but Roets is holding out hope the store will be open in time for Record Store Day. Follow the store’s Facebook page for updates.

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Roets, who founded Wooden Nickel in 1982, saw the decline of vinyl relatively early in the life of his stores. 

Adapting to changes in the years that followed didn’t prove difficult until the dawn of illegal file-sharing became popular online. The eventual introduction of legal downloads did not make the situation better. 

“A lot of young people just totally backed off from the traditional, physical formats, and, of course, vinyl had been dead since CDs got popular,” he said.

A multitude of independent music stores began to close, but a 2007 phone call from a store owner in Georgia sparked an event that would bring more attention and business to the suffering industry. The resulting plan, a play on Comic Book Day, was an annual event where record stores would have a grand sale and celebration of vinyl. 

“I got involved with Record Store Day in the early stages of it and gave my input, and what happened the first year, our biggest get was that we were able to get Metallica, who had always been a good friend of independent retail, to sign on board, and they became our first ‘record store ambassador,’ and now we have one every year,” Roets said. This year’s ambassadors are husband and wife Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell.

get there early

In addition to 10 percent coupons currently available on flyers at all three Wooden Nickel locations, the stores will have a handful of vinyl releases made special for Record Store Day. Unfortunately, those 10 percent coupons can’t be applied to RSD releases.

Some of those releases will be extremely limited across the country, like Donovan Woods’ Not a Greatest Hits, which will only have 200 copies. These rare pieces are so desirable that in 2022 the line to get into the Wooden Nickel on North Anthony Boulevard stretched around the building.

Roets says if fans want one of these extremely limited albums, the Anthony Boulevard location is where they will likely find it. 

In addition to that, local bands will be playing at The Garden, just south of the store, including Ultramagnetics, Skavossas, and Heavy Step.

“(Ultramagnetics) in particular is really interesting to me because they’re two of the biggest bands in Fort Wayne history,” he said. 

Aside from exclusive releases, discounts, and live music, food and drinks will be available, as well as around $1,000 in giveaways at Wooden Nickel.

Customers at Karma Records will also receive a free gift bag while supplies last. 

‘It’s Like An attitude’

In addition to Record Store Day and support from artists, Roets said a new generation of listeners is a driving force behind the boost in vinyl’s popularity. 

“Coming out of COVID has been great for us in a way, if you want to look at it positively,” he said. “So many young people, because they were sitting at home with nothing to do, they went out and got a turntable, and that was like a new hobby for them. Now they’re vinyl buyers, and they weren’t before. So having that time at home really did help us a lot.”

While more convenient and accessible formats have taken the charge, why do Roets and so many others still believe in the power of vinyl? What continues to drive that attraction?

“Vinyl to me, it’s like an attitude,” he said. “It’s like, I’m going to put this 20-minute piece of music on my turntable, I’m going to sit back and really listen to it and absorb it, which is different than just running around with background music on your phone. It’s just a totally different thing. When I was a kid, way back in the Stone Age, in my living room, I had a beanbag chair. I sat there, put a record on, and I blasted it. And I really got into it, and I didn’t have anything else but just listening to the music on my mind.”

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