Resurgence of Records

When you think about stores that go out of business, it is the mom and pop shops that come to mind. Rarely do you hear about a small shop putting a megastore out of business. Past generations anticipated physical forms of music. It was an era when the single was released before the album was available in stores. But the birth of technology (the iPod, youTube, streaming sites etc) marked the beginning of the end of the music store. Now it's the little guys, the local music shops, that still cling onto dear life.

The Inland Empire and its surrounding cities are home to a variety of record shops. Dr. Strange, The Glass House Record Store, Zoinks and Rhino Records in Claremont just to name a few. If you ask record collectors about the resurgence of vinyl, you are sure to get different responses. For some of the more serious record collectors, it has not changed and the question will offend them because to them, it was never a fad, to begin with. More casual fans of vinyl are better sources for this question because a great chunk of them are new to the community.

Ernest De La Puente has been an employee of Rhino Records for just under five years. He does not like the record collector title because he feels that it is too pretentious. He humbly admitted that he is fairly new to the community and noted that a resurgence is taking place. De La Puente likes to buy records but is not too quick to spend on them. If he spots something he likes and can afford, he will purchase it simply because he has an appreciation for music. De La Puente pointed out that too often, groups of people walk into the store with cameras in hand and stage an impromptu photo shoot. “I don’t tell them anything. I don’t want to be that person but some of them just pose with records and don’t buy anything. They want the street cred just because it’s cool.” He shared that a member of the alternative band, Sonic Youth, popped in the other day and those celebrity sightings at Rhino Records are not uncommon at all.

Rhino Records in Claremont has been independently owned and operated since 1981. The 6000 square foot store was opened in 1991 and website states that they “have gathered no moss since [then].” They claim to be a record store like those from the good ol’ days but this one has stood the test of time.

Rhino Records the fifth record store where self-proclaimed, serious collector, Anthony Castro has worked at. His love for music began (against his will) when he was a child. His parents were always playing records and although he did not like their selection of Soul and Oldies at the time, he says that most of the time it is what he listens to now. Castro was a Rhino Records regular and was offered a job, he has been employed by the record shop for almost a decade. He stated that the only reason why he left the previous shops is that they all went out of business. When asked whether or not he noticed a resurgence, he said he has seen all the ups and downs. “In the beginning, records were cheaper and collectors were the only ones buying them, it was mostly older people.” Anthony noticed a decline in demand during the early 2000’s, “it was horrible everywhere! But with the closing of other shops, the crowd came over here.” He believes that the hipster mothership, Urban Outfitters is partially responsible for the new wave because the chain started carrying vinyl and record players. The resurgence enticed artists and more of them started to press records.

It is hard to predict the future of record shops because fashionable or not, in a sense, it is a dying business. Physical copies require additional time, money, and labor so more and more artists have started to drop albums digitally. Besides, younger generations are fickle and always ready for the next best thing.

The record collecting community will most likely continue to exist. As long as the little shops remain open and record swaps keep taking place, nostalgia will live on. Like record nerd, Anthony Castro stated, “The format doesn't matter, there is always gonna be a love for music, no matter what. Sure, digital is more convenient, you can’t play records in your car!”