DENVER — Vinyl record sales haven’t skipped a beat during the coronavirus pandemic and customers are still flocking to independent records stores, hoping to add some new music to their collection.
“So, during the pandemic – I think, I don’t know – it seems like people really took a lot of comfort from this cheap, easy to get thing that brings a warm feeling that lasts,” said Paul Epstein, owner of Twist & Shout Records.
Epstein’s store has been in business for 32 years but this year presented some unique challenges. He temporarily closed the store on March 15 and transitioned to a curbside pickup model while ramping up online sales.
“Almost immediately from reopening in June our customer base came back, I mean, almost within a day. It was pretty amazing,” said Epstein.
Epstein says his top priority is safety, especially on Black Friday when his store released exclusive products as part of Record Store Day. Before the pandemic, customers would start lining up at midnight and by the time they opened the doors there would be hundreds of people outside.
This year, Epstein allowed customers to reserve appointments in the morning before opening up to the public in the afternoon. He is only allowing 25 people in the store to allow for social distancing.
“For me the real important thing here it was to save the business, but it was to do it without anyone getting sick and that’s been rule number one going forward,” said Epstein.
Earlier this year, vinyl record sales outpaced CDs for this first time since the 1980s.
“Well you can’t see music live anymore. It’s also a really nice thing to do when it’s cold outside, sit inside and listen to some records,” said Pete Stidman with Wax Trax Records.
The store closed during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic and Stidman said they used that time to expand their vinyl collection.
“Business has rebounded and gotten a little bit better,” said Stidman.