The age of vinyl dies in Superior

It’s entirely possible the alleged resurgence of vinyl has been overstated.

Perfect Duluth Day reported today that The Vinyl Cave in Superior, Wis., is closing at the end of the year.

“It costs me money to be part of this now,” owner Tom Johnson, who opened the store after retiring from the railroad a few years ago, tells PDD. “Let’s face it, we’re selling old records to people in Duluth and Superior. It’s not like we’re in New York or L.A. or Chicago or even Minneapolis where there’s a lot of people and a lot of money. There’s just not enough people here to keep it going anymore.”

If there were a market for vinyl records, Johnson and his business partner wouldn’t be sitting on 10,000 albums and 300,000 singles hoping a single fan wouldn’t write a check for the lot of them.

Co-owner Tom Unterberger will move some of them to a store he owns next door. The vinyl record section will replace a greeting cards display. You think fans of vinyl are hard to find, the greeting card business isn’t exactly booming either, apparently.

What’s the problem? There are people who want vinyl albums; there just aren’t the vinyl albums they want in circulation.

“It’s Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac and CCR,” Johnson said. “It’s the heavy metal and hair bands from the ’80s. That’s what people are looking for now and it’s harder to find. We’re not able to restock like we used to.”

In other words: It’s what’s sitting in a box under the stairs of nearly every Baby Boomer right now.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • Mike Worcester

    I noticed in Barnes & Noble one day that their vinyl selections were very limited. Only the “big” sellers were stocked. That’s why I liked a store such as the Electric Fetus, which bought and sold used vinyl, but you were obviously getting used (previously listened to?) quality.

  • Robert Moffitt

    More proof that town is terribly misnamed.

  • wjc

    Damn hipsters! Get off of my lawn!!

  • Rob

    Heh. At one time, I had about 1,000 vinyl albums. Sold/gave away all of ’em years ago. I have lots of regrets, but now that I can put thousands of albums on my mp3-friendly devices, not having a roomful of physical sound delivery vehicles isn’t among them. And yeah, I know the sound quality ain’t nearly as sublime, but I don’t consume music in the same ways that I did back in the heyday of vinyl, and mp3 files fill the bill quite adequately .

    • RBHolb

      I gave a bunch of albums to a friend to use as edging in his garden. I told him that if I had known how that was where they would end up, I wold not have been so anal about handling them only by the edges, putting them in the cover with the sleeve opening up, cleaning off the needle, etc., etc.

    • jon

      I don’t want to get dragged into a debate about the merits of reproducing audio digitally vs via analog means, but in general digital media is a more accurate reproduction of sound than what vinyl produces.

      I’m not saying that people aren’t allowed to enjoy the sound of vinyl, or tubes, but the digital audio (through a quality DAC) reproduces most audible noise better than vinyl.

      There is an exception for higher frequencies (digital generally cuts out around 22khz, vinyl can reproduces sounds upwards of 25khz, but those high frequencies tend to wear out quickly on the tracks) but, most humans can only hear up to about 20khz, and most adults even less… (human hearing range tops out at about 28khz for younger children with excellent hearing).

      Most of that is a mute point because most speakers don’t do a great job of producing quality sound over 20khz.

  • joetron2030

    I notice that they don’t have any online sales presence (not even a link to an eBay account). They have a web page, but no way to look at their inventory. Just a suggestion to send them your want list.

    Too late now, obviously, but I wonder if they had considered going down that avenue or not?