WALLINGFORD — Part of the joy of going to a record store — and there are only a few left in the state, about a dozen or so — is the opportunity for discovery.
Thumbing through a bin of vinyl records allows for a bit of serendipity about what you might find. At least, Rick Sinkiewicz, co-owner of Redscroll Records, thinks so.
“I listen to some (music) streaming services. So many of the same things come up time and again,” he said. “It’s a closed loop. It’s not an open discovery source by any means. There is so much out there.”
On Saturday, lines of people came to Redscroll Records to celebrate National Record Store Day. The North Colony Road store offered discounts and giveaways, but what it really honored, in a sense, was the idiosyncrasy of collecting. The hunt. The search for just the right sound, the right album, the right artist that intersects with how one feels in that given moment.
No algorithm can reproduce that.
Mike Katis made the ride from his Norwalk home to check out the sale. He’s usually looking for his favorite artists, but this time he didn’t have anything in particular in mind. Still, he came out with a David Byrne compilation of Brazilian music and an EP from the Canadian band Broken Social Scene.
“I like the collecting aspect of it. I like how big the artwork is. It’s a whole production to open it up,” he said. “If you dig you can find something great.”
Back at home, he’s a got a special spot in his house for his music. A couple of wraparound shelves for his 600-album collection and a table for his turntable. When he’s going to be listening to music for the day, he has a shelf above his record player where he displays the covers of that day’s selections.
Katis isn’t the only one who came a distance to check out Redscroll on Saturday.
“We are a destination store,” said Josh Carlson, one of the co-owners of Redscroll. “We cater to the obscure.”
While big name artists are available, underground or avant garde bands that press only 500 to 1,000 copies of an album are available at Redscroll. The store doesn’t deal in pre-1960s music, Carlson said, unless it is Frank Sinatra.
“Frank Sinatra is big with the 16-year-old crowd. Used to be Billy Joel,” Carlson said.
Carlson and Sinkiewicz certainly have their own music passions reflected in the store, but there is a caveat.
“You have to carry what people want. You don’t want to push your taste on people, but you want to expose them to as much as possible,” Carlson said.
“We don’t use the word curate. We don’t run a museum. It’s a store. We are trying to cater to as wide an audience as possible,” Sinkiewicz said.
What the audience seems to want has changed. When the store first opened, about 60 percent of its inventory was on CD. Now, 80 percent of what they stock are vinyl records.
“Records are a thing again, I guess,” said Sinkiewicz. “When we first opened (in 2007) it was on an uptick. There were articles for the first five years about how vinyl was coming back. It’s been back now for a little while.”
A few factors contribute to the rise of vinyl, Sinkiewicz believes. There is an element of nostalgia for older people, he said.
“For younger folks, it’s a tangible thing in a world where so much is intangible. There is nothing about (MP3s and streaming services) that feels real. It could all disappear in a moment,” Sinkiewicz said.
New Haven resident Gary Robinson methodically thumbed through a bin of records. Robinson is a DJ (his stage name is DJ Prime) and he still spins vinyl. He’s got about 15,000 records in his collection.
“I’m looking for anything catchy. Funk, soul, hip-hop, R&B,” he said. “You can’t beat the sound.”
Katis wandered the store for about an hour. He described the record buyers as a kind of brotherhood, with Redscroll Records as one of their homes.
“They put a lot of care and love into selling records,” Katis said.