In 1996, as I was preparing to move to Fort Wayne from western Massachusetts, I visited area record stores trying to drum up interest in my vast collection of jazz on vinyl.
Alas, all my drumming was for naught.
The compact disc had ousted all prior forms of music storage as thoroughly as the Cro-Magnons had banished the Neanderthals. Or so it seemed at the time.
In the end, I sold what platters I could and threw the rest in a Dumpster.
I likened it to ripping off a Band-Aid.
The records were cumbersome and the prospect of transporting them 800 miles west seemed about as practical to me as hauling a ton of asbestos drywall to a new house.
Almost 16 years later, I may be regretting my decision.
On Saturday, the fifth annual national Record Store Day will be celebrated in various locales around the city and the once endangered ideas and entities that the event ballyhoos are getting stronger by the day.
Vinyl is now ardently and lucratively sold by three independent music retailers in the city and not just used vinyl. New vinyl product comes out all the time.
According to Nielsen Soundscan, an information system that tracks sales of music and music video, vinyl sales in the U.S. topped 3.9 million in 2011, a 39.3 percent gain over 2010.
More than 250 new releases and reissues on vinyl (some of it in the form of such delicious gimmicks as colored vinyl and picture discs) will be released exclusively to independently owned brick-and-mortar music stores across the country on Saturday as part of Record Store Day.
The resurgence of vinyl is partly about fidelity, according to Morrison Agen, owner of Neat Neat Neat Records at 1836 S. Calhoun St.
The following progression is certainly open to debate, but many people believe that some audio fidelity was lost when vinyl records gave way to compact discs and that even more was sacrificed when compact discs started giving way to MP3s and other sound files.
I have always felt that the resurgence in vinyl is primarily a backlash against MP3 culture and the fact that major labels have made a cheap commodity out of music, Agen writes in an email. People are willing and, in fact, demand a premium product. Vinyl is that product. It is sonically superior to anything else out there (including and especially CDs).
Other factors in vinyls resurgence among young people, Agen writes, include collectibility, cover art and tangibility (the listeners physical interaction with the album and the machine that plays it).
As for those machines (aka turntables) that some pundits once consigned to the Island of Misfit Gizmos where 8-track tape players and reel-to-reels ran aground, Agen insists that he is doing boffo business selling reconditioned and new ones.
I cant keep used tables in stock to save my life, he writes. New tables move very quickly as well
Bob Roets, longtime owner of Wooden Nickel chain, says used and new CDs still constitute the bulk of his business these days, but vinyl sales have grown steadily more brisk.
The Wooden Nickel Collectors Store on North Anthony Boulevard is the chains Vinyl Mecca, Roets says.
It is presided over by manager and music guru Tim Hogan, who has worked at every cool Fort Wayne record store since the early 70s.
Hes been with me now 28 years, Roets says. He loves vinyl. He lives and breathes vinyl. Its as if its going through his veins.
Roets says the closing of the Borders chain and the decision by big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy to significantly scale back on floor space and racks devoted to CDs brought a lot of customers back to Wooden Nickel outlets where they found a deep inventory and knowledgeable staffs.
The Wooden Nickel chain is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and Roets says his passion for music retailing, which started to wane about four years ago, has returned.
I dont know how its going to last, he says. The pool of younger people buying CDs will continue to shrink. But the combination of the big-box stores getting out of music and vinyl growing has gotten me excited about the business again.
Bob Sluyter, who moved his Chicago music store Shooting Star Records from the Windy City to Wells Street last fall, says he doesnt think vinyl sales will ever scale the heights they reached in the late 70s and early 80s, but if interest among young people in the format grows at the current rate, shops like his should persevere for another 20 or 30 years.
I certainly hope so, he says.
In recent years, Roets says Wooden Nickel has recommitted itself to local music and that will be reflected on Record Store Day.
Twenty-two area bands will perform throughout the day at the North Anthony Boulevard and West Jefferson Boulevard stores, says Roets, who helped Record Store Day get off the ground in 2008.
Goodie bags will be bestowed upon early birds at all three Wooden Nickel locations (including the Clinton Street headquarters) and drawings and giveaways will happen at the North Anthony Boulevard store.
Goodie bags will also be offered at Neat Neat Neat.
Agen says DJ Fresh Ben will spin Record Store Day titles all day at his store.
And, weather permitting, we are asking that local musicians come and busk outside, he writes. Should be fun.