The sale of vinyl records has reached its highest level in 28 years and Batavia resident Richard Mistretta is betting that trend continues.
His own research and experience tells him vinyl, once considered a relic of history, has achieved its own kind of staying power.
"Last year, I first had a thought of opening a brick and mortar store," Mistretta said. "I wasn't sure what I'd be selling, but I started selling online and I noticed albums were selling well. I was selling a lot of vinyl, so with my online business, I switched over to exclusively selling vinyl and the sales numbers continued to go up."
Tomorrow he opens Vinyl Record Revival at 220 E. Main St., Batavia.
He's spent the past couple of weeks building bins for records, CDs, reel-to-reel, and he even has a couple of boxes of 8-track tapes, but vinyl is clearly where the action is. It attracts collectors of all ages these days.
"The big age group right now is young people, teenagers are getting into it," Mistretta said. "I've been hearing about it from a lot of people. They find it fascinating. They find it is something interesting to collect, and, also, the sound is different. That's the big thing, but, also, it's tangible. You can hold it, you can look at it, the artwork; it's easy to read. When something is digital, you don't get all that."
Clearly, vinyl records can't beat digital, especially in the age of cloud storage and streaming services, for convenience, but beside of the tactile and aesthetic appeal, most connoisseurs tip in favor of vinyl for the superior audio performance of analog, which doesn't suffer from the loss of dynamic range found in compressed sound files.
It might be surprising, but as Mistretta noted, when teenagers take an interest in The Beatles, they seek out vinyl, some becoming die-hard collectors.
That works out well for Mistretta, who is a lifelong fan of The Beatles and is stocking a full range of Beatles records, books and memorabilia.
But the Beatles aren't the only hot seller from previous generations. There's also The Who, Queen, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, and, Mistretta noted, even before he died, he couldn't keep Prince in stock. When he put Prince records up for sale online, they would often be gone within hours.
Record stores in WNY are now few and far between, so he's hoping to draw clientele from throughout the GLOW region as well as Rochester and Buffalo. One of his goals is to get to know his customers, know what they're looking for and work with his wholesalers to find it for them.
Mistretta is 60 and recently retired after 20 years at the University of Rochester. He lived in Rochester when he met his wife, Michelle, and fell in love with her and fell in love with her hometown, Batavia. He's lived here for three years.
When he decided vinyl would be the speciality of his retail store, he started buying boxes and boxes of records, including one large collection from a seller in Pennsylvania. He said he's found some real gems among these big collections.
"The poor UPS drivers," he said. "Those poor delivery people probably have sore backs from carrying in boxes."
He's found the type of customers range from young to old, from those looking for just specific artists, to those who buy everything in a genre and those who are more interested in album covers or just exploring.
He has set up several listening stations in the store so customers can sample before they buy.
Right now, the store is strictly used records, tapes and CDs, but with most top current recording artists releasing their albums on vinyl again, he is hoping to find the right distributor so he can carry new inventory as well.
He also sees a need to supply area audiophiles with turntables, receivers and speakers.
"Manufacturers are starting to get back into making a nice receiver, making a nice phonograph and the big speakers, because everything did switch over to something that was more portable," Mistretta said.
Store hours will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. He's not settled yet on what his Saturday hours will be, but he will be closed Sundays and Mondays.