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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Record shops in Tucson are gaining popularity as vinyl sales rise nationally

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Ana Teresa Espinoza

Kellen Fortier, co-owner of Wooden Tooth Records, organizes records. 

The Times, They Are A-Changin’

Vinyl is on the rise again and Generation Z is one of the main forces behind its revival.

In 2021, the Recording Industry Association of America reported a “remarkable resurgence” of vinyl sales for their mid-year report. According to RIAA, revenue from vinyl grew 94% from 2020 and had been steadily rising for a few years prior. 

Artists like Jack White and Arctic Monkeys dominated vinyl sales in 2014, a year that marked a record high in vinyl sales since 1993, according to the Nielsen Music U.S. Report. According to Billboard’s annual report, in 2021, Adele’s album “30” was the best-selling record in America. 

"The Rainbow Wall" at Heroes & Villians displays the latest/hottest vinyl.
“The Rainbow Wall” at Heroes & Villians displays the latest/hottest vinyl.

Record shops in Tucson

Here in Tucson, the rise of vinyl popularity has impacted local industry a lot. 

Jake Sullivan and Kellen Fortier, co-owners of Wooden Tooth Records on Seventh Street, have been running the shop since 2015. They are located near Tucson Magnet High School and the University of Arizona, so it is not uncommon for them to see students pop in from time to time. 

“We get a lot of people who want to re-purchase records they owned when they were kids and people who are discovering record collecting for the first time and looking to build their collection,” Sullivan said. 

Ed Buster, a recent UA graduate, is a customer at Wooden Tooth Records and spoke on why he started his collection in addition to his music streaming services. 

“I feel like when you have access to so much, it’s hard to pick but with vinyl you listen to the album how it was intended,” Buster said.  

Buster’s record collection includes vinyl from artists such as Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and the Ink Spots. His original method of purchasing records often depended on his familiarity with an album and artist. 

Zia Records, a trade and sell shop located on Speedway Boulevard, features CDs, vinyl and movies. 

Hanna Alcantar, an employee at Zia Records, said she began collecting records when she started dating her boyfriend. She’s been at it for two years now and owns an estimate of 100 records. She had no knowledge of the store’s existence before her interest in building a collection.

“I heard about it mainly from other friends and my boyfriend and I’ve been working at the Tucson location for about a year now,” Alcantar said. 

Alcantar noted that although the younger demographics aren’t the ones spending hundreds of dollars on records, there has been a noticeable increase of them showing up to the store during the past year of her working there.

Heroes and Villains, a local shop located on Broadway Boulevard, originally focused on selling comics and card games. In response to the rise in popularity of vinyl, they opened their record shop in November 2019. 

Delaney Faber began working at Heroes and Villains less than a year after its opening and said she has enjoyed bringing in music she listens to regularly. When she’s not listening to the purchased vinyl, she displays it on her wall, stating that she feels the cover art is just as important as what’s inside. 

After starting her own collection, Faber noticed a deeper appreciation for the music she was listening to.

“It makes it more special when you find something you have been looking for a long time, making you appreciate the album more,” Faber said. “Listening to vinyl forces you to listen to a full album the way an artist intended you to and enjoy the full art they are trying to convey.”

Heroes and Villains regularly stocks up on anime and video game soundtracks, often ordering them directly from Japan. This addition acted as an extension of what the store already was, a welcoming environment that catered to gamer and comic book lovers. 

“Record collecting scratches the same itch as a comic book or manga collecting,” Faber said. “It’s not only for aesthetic but also a way of supporting your favorite artists.”

RELATED: Around the Corner: The birth of Hurricane Records 

Nostalgic Media

In 2020, the pandemic put people in their homes, leaving many to wonder what they could do to pass the time. 

According to Google Trends, in May of 2020, the search for “vinylon Google rose in popularity, with “Harry Styles vinyl,” “Evermore vinyl“ and “Lil Peep vinyl” being related searches. Trends in music and fashion have recently sought inspiration from past generations as well. Dua Lipa released an ’80s pop-inspired album and Harry Styles cited the ’70s as an inspiration for his music.

When vinyl sales began to rise, Faber noticed it became more difficult to order stock for the store, let alone herself. A hobby that was once almost ritualistic became challenging.  

“We had “DEMIDEVIL” by Ashnikko in stock, but I didn’t get it when it arrived and then it sold out,” Faber said. “It was on backorder for months.”  

With the revival of 70s fashion and music and the popularity of vintage thrifting, many describe record collecting as nostalgic, even if they were not around when vinyl was the main mode of listening.

Kellen Fortier, co-owner of Wooden Tooth Records, started his collection after his mom passed down her collection. It was his first real introduction to analog media, but it soon became a lifelong love of his. 

“She had all these Clash and Roxy music records. Just so much ’70s and ’80s,” Fortier said. “It was all music I already knew but it meant something more to own it.”


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