Walking via the doorways at Randy’s Record Shop is like moving into the previous — again to a time when vinyl was once king and CDs, let by myself Spotify, didn’t exist.
The modest-looking retailer at 157 E. Harvey Milk Blvd. (900 South) in Salt Lake City is filled with tens of hundreds of information — albums, 45s, even some 78s. It’s staffed by way of people who find themselves, if conceivable, much more song than the consumers, led by way of founder/proprietor Randy Stinson, who opened for trade in October 1978.
He credit the retailer with giving him focal point after his provider in Vietnam, the place his brother had despatched him the newest releases and homesick infantrymen crowded round to listen to them. He nervous about last in the 1980s: CDs had been all of sudden being bought in all places, from new song retail outlets to grocery shops, and Rhino Records stopped reissuing vintage albums on information.
But in the early 2000s, he noticed vinyl get started a comeback that has the retailer thriving lately. Last yr, the Travel Channel put Randy’s on its listing of “8 Must-Visit American Record Stores” — along Amoeba Music in Los Angeles and the Dusty Groove in Chicago — writing that Randy’s is “how a antique used-record retailer used to seem in the 20th century, and what’s to not like about that?”
Now, Stinson is retiring — and his son Sam will develop into the new proprietor. But Stinson, 76, hasn’t misplaced any of his love for song.
At house, he has 10,000 information in his storage and a jukebox stuffed with rock ’n’ roll 45s — “the stuff I grew up with” in the layout he grew up with.
He enjoys asking guests what they concentrate to and will get serious about the whole thing from Led Zeppelin to the whole style of Northern Soul song. With jazz his present favourite, he’s frequently enjoying information from Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and Thelonious Monk.
“The people who hate vinyl don’t understand it at all,” Stinson stated. “First, you get to possess one thing. If you’ve no matter it is you set in your telephone, you don’t truly personal the rest.
“But the No. 1 explanation why is how they sound. If you’ve half-decent apparatus, information sound so a lot more actual it is improbable.”
Stinson labored as a typesetter for Salt Lake City’s newspapers ahead of he was once drafted and despatched to Vietnam, the place his brother shipped him information. “I was probably the first guy in Vietnam to have the Beatles White Album. I had stuff like Cream, Jimi Hendrix,” he stated.
He’d play song for his pals and later realized that many extra other folks had been coated up in the hallway, listening outdoor the room.
“A lot of them were officers,” Stinson stated. “They came because it sounded so good, and it reminded us of being home.”
When he were given again to Utah, he was once consuming “2½ six-packs” of beer “and smoking 2½ packs of cigarettes each day. That’s how unhealthy I used to be. I may simply inform that I used to be going to finally end up loss of life and finally end up dropping no matter I had at the moment.
“Luckily, I stored all my information,” he stated with fun. “I’d go, ‘Well, I’ll just only drink one six-pack. I’m not going to sell my records to buy the booze.’”
He surrender alcohol and tobacco by way of 1975, short of to “be fair” to his new spouse (they later divorced) and hoping to in the end open a shop. He was once spinning information at the Bongo Lounge at 30th South and Highland Drive, taking masses of requests.
“I’d have about 95 percent of them,” he stated. “But it bummed me out not to have those other ones. So that’s one reason I wanted to have my own store, was to be able to get those records.”
By the time he opened the retailer in 1978, he had “at least 60,000 records” in his non-public assortment — which become his retailer stock.
“I only had $3,000 at the start, and I spent most of it to get cabinets to put the records on and in,” Stinson stated. “I had hardly any money left over. I sold a lot of my records to keep the business going. … I sold real rare stuff back in the early ’80s to be able to pay the bills and stay out of debt.”
Stinson estimates that over the previous 40 years, he’s purchased a minimum of a half-million LPs and any other half-million 45s, maximum of which he grew to become round and bought. He does, on the other hand, nonetheless have the first checklist he ever purchased — Santo & Johnny’s 1959 recording of “Sleepwalk,” and it’s in “perfect condition.”
“I started buying 45s way back then,” he stated, “and I never stopped.”
He recollects being inspired with the sound on a Buddy Holly CD when it was once reissued in the mid-1980s.
“I thought, ‘Wow, this is so clean. I have never heard these little details and stuff,’” he said. “I played it a few times, and then I thought, ‘It sounds a little bright. The bass doesn’t sound good.’”
So he were given out his authentic 1959 checklist of the identical Buddy Holly album.
“And that started to convince me totally that records had better sound. I played that record a few times, played the CD and I never played that CD again. Only in my car.”
He examined his principle on his then-wife and their 5 kids. He performed vinyl and CD variations of songs for them whilst they listened, out of sight, in an adjoining room.
“They said the one that sounds the best was the record,” he stated. “I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just me.”
Convinced as he was once, the upward push of the CD generation in the 1980s had him nervous. “There were tons of [new music] stores. They just kept opening up. And different places — grocery stores — were selling CDs.”
It was once a blow when, in 1989, as his retailer was once promoting “tons” of largest hits albums from Rhino Records on vinyl, the label stopped issuing them.
“They discontinued them all,” Stinson stated. “That’s when I was nervous — ’89 was when they kind of killed vinyl.”
‘Stick with one thing’
But as new vinyl went away, used vinyl was once simple to get from “people who were dumping their records” after changing them with CDs.
“We just kept buying and buying them, even though sales had gone down,” he stated. “And some people just gave us their records to get rid of them.”
He bought CDs and eight-track tapes and cassettes — even attempted posters at one level. “I tried different things and thought, ‘You know what? They’re not going over. So let’s just stick with one thing,’” Stinson stated. “So we just stuck with records.”
He was once additionally paying off a tax invoice; he stated was once unaware taxes were going unpaid. He skipped holidays, labored 80 hours per week, and by way of the early 2000s, was once out of debt. At the identical time, checklist gross sales began to pick out up once more.
After about 2010, “vinyl started selling like crazy,” Stinson stated.
Today, the retailer is an excellent spot to hang around and skim, to seek out treasures and communicate song with the team of workers. Along with the information, it sells CDs and cassettes or even a couple of eight-track tapes — which, Stinson will inform you, “sound good if they’re good quality.”
His enthusiasm is “pretty infectious,” stated Kristopher Rounds, who has labored at the store for a decade.
Sean and Joan Dahl make common journeys to Randy’s, the place Sean Dahl stated he has shopped since he was once a teen. “Their used vinyl rotates so much that every time we come in, it’s a fresh experience,” he stated.
The workers “know their stuff,” Joan Dahl added. “… Almost everything we run across is priced competitively. We find all sorts of obscure stuff as well as new stuff.”
That’s precisely the revel in Stinson desires his consumers to have.
“I’m just hoping they’ll come in and find something,” he stated, “and think the price is good on it. That was always so important to me. … And we’re still going up. We’re getting new buyers all the time.”
Stinson nonetheless likes running in the store; “what makes me happy is making other people happy,” he stated.
But he hasn’t been ready to look out of his proper eye for a number of months, and the imaginative and prescient is going in his left eye. He and his spouse, Janice, wish to trip — they’re hoping to seek advice from Europe and Walt Disney World and take an Alaska cruise.
“I want to do that before I go too blind,” he stated. “As lengthy as I will nonetheless see sufficient, then I wish to move on those journeys.
“I by no means left the United States excluding to visit Vietnam. And that was once now not a holiday!”