In a highly digitized world, it may seem strange that audiophiles would seek out the thump of a needle dropping on a polymer disc and the quiet scratches that precede the music from vinyl records.
Yet, maybe in spite of it, the young and not-so-young have been buying albums in record numbers. Last year, according to Nielsen Music, 14.3 million vinyl records were sold, an increase of 9 percent over the prior year. While that is only about 8 percent of the total album sales for the year, it shows a growing interest.
That, and a personal passion, have brought Jada Pfarr and her husband Jeff Pfarr, both born and raised in Kenosha, to seek to open a store dedicated to vinyls: Longshot Vinyl.
They have a location picked out in downtown Racine, at 324 Sixth St., near 3rd Coast Bicycles. This will be the sole vinyl-only store in the area, according to Jada, but the space is not ready yet.
In the meantime, they hold pop-up events in the area, where they make their wares available.
“Our goal is to create a space for the community to talk music and vinyl, buy music, sell music, listen to music, meet friends, support local artists and musicians,” said Jada. “For now, we’ve created that with our Pop Ups.”
On the second Friday of every month, you can find them at The Buzz, 5621 Sixth Ave., where fellow afficiandos are invited to bring their own records to play and flip through Longshot Vinyl’s collection.
“It creates an awesome atmosphere,” said Riki Tagliapietra, managing director at The Buzz.
They have their regulars, and the people who show up span generations.
“We have kids who come in,” Jada said. “Our youngest customer is 9.”
One of the vinyl records younger people ask for is the soundtrack to the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” It features popular artists from the ‘80s such as the Police and the Clash.
It has brought that decade’s music to young audiences just like the soundtrack to “Guardians of the Galaxy” did for music of the ‘70s.
Both are available on vinyl.
‘More for fun than anything’
The goal of the store is both financial and playful, but it is “more for fun that anything,” she said.
The high school sweethearts love to listen to the albums in their extensive collection, which numbers more than 1,000 records.
“One of the things we liked about each other is that we had records,” Jada said.
“It is a more engaged approach to listening to music,” Jeff added, as it is harder to shuffle through tracks.
“People have thousands of mp3 files on their iPhone, but they don’t pay any attention,” she said.
Tim Nissila, of Sturtevant, a classic rock fan, has been to a few of the events.
“I have always walked away with something,” he said.
In his opinion, vinyl sounds better with the right equalization.
“There is an ownership aspect — ‘I love this album. I want to own the physical thing,’” Jeff said, noting the feeling is different from downloading a song.
Adam Watring knows that feeling.
While at Sazzy B during the February pop-up event, Adam Watring brought the album “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to play.
The album is signficant to him — it’s a memento of a trip to France.
“I bought it in 2007 on the Champs-Élysées when I was a junior in high school,” he said.