By: Jake Brown
Vinyl is back! Sales of vinyl are at a 25-year high and the Guardian reported in 2016 that vinyl sales had overtook digital downloads for the first time in history.
Gone are the days when vinyl collecting had become an embarrassing hobby of your dads - vinyl is finally back in trend.
Also on the up are independent record stores; they’ve been fighting with high street retailers like HMV and are finally reaping the rewards for it. One of these stores is Life of Vinyl, which sits in the Thornaby Industrial Estate in Teesside and stocks thousands of new and old vinyl at very reasonable prices. Take a quick glance at their website (www.lifeofvinyl.com) and you’ll see they offer many different pressings of classic records, ranging from the newly remastered versions to a more vintage nostalgic feel with an early pressing.
Being a family-run business really helps the store have a welcoming feeling, and manager Debbie says: “We’ve got a great team here; some of the staff are teens so we’ve got to teach them everything starting from putting the needle on the record!” The staff make sure all records on sale are catalogued and photographed: “which keeps them very busy,” jokes Debbie. Life of Vinyl offers only the highest quality goods and makes sure all records are cleaned by their professional vinyl cleaning machines, a service that Debbie hopes to broaden in the future: “it’s for anyone who wants to have their whole collection in tip-top condition”.
Nothing is wasted at Life of Vinyl, any damaged vinyl is made into vinyl related artwork including a stunning Jimi Hendrix piece that adorns the walls; and this recycling is something Debbie hopes to carry on: “we would like to expand in the very near future so we can also offer framed records/covers and a range of personalised gifts and related items”.
The rise in vinyl sales has seen many new bands and artists release their work on record as well as CD and download, and this inspired a decision from the shop two years ago to start to stock new vinyl: “Our new vinyl range has expanded significantly from stocking just 100 titles initially to now having almost 3,000,” says Debbie -something which has seen sales rocket in the last 12 months as a new generation discovers the joy of records. The Life of Vinyl online store achieves much of the sales and have even processed orders from as far as Mongolia. Whether you like to mosh out to Sex Pistols or layback and listen to Beethoven, this store has something for every taste as it holds music from everyone from 70s folk rockers America to Damon Albarn’s electronic side project, Gorillaz.
If you’re not looking to add to your vinyl collection at the moment Life of Vinyl’s website offers a fantastic selection of music and vinyl-based art and photography, featuring iconic shots of The Who guitarist Pete Townshend and legendary glam rocker, Marc Bolan. However, in my opinion, the pick of the bunch is a brilliant acrylic painting of gravelly voiced singer Joe Cocker by artist Peter Marsh, and a wide variety of framed vintage Melody Maker covers featuring stars such as Bob Dylan and John Lennon.
As youth culture is currently in a frenzy for all things vintage, vinyl sales show no signs of slowing down and offering the wide quality service do the future of Life of Vinyl and other independent stores looks bright.
For further information head to lifeofvinyl.com.
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