Located at 3037 Indianola Ave., Elizabeth’s Records sells a collection of records and many other items. Credit: Juliana Hilton
Vinyls aren’t going out of style, as the increase in sales leaves local Columbus record stores working to accommodate the needs of their wide range of customers.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America’s mid-year report, vinyl sales “continued to rise in the first half of 2022,” with revenues increasing by 22 percent. As sales continue to rise, local Columbus record stores are working right alongside this growth.
Dennis McAfee, a fourth-year in music and head of social media and partnerships for local record store Magnolia Thunderpussy, said Magnolia has been around since the ’70s and sells a large collection of vinyl records and other items.
“Obviously we have, you know, the records and the CDs and the cassettes and stuff like that, but we also have, like, T-shirts and little knick-knacks and tchotchkes, you know, pins, patches, stickers,” McAfee said. “Basically, just anything you can find that’s related to music in some way, we probably sell.”
Along with the items Magnolia sells, McAfee said the store also has a diverse array of music.
“We have some records that, you know, came out in 1970 when we opened and we, you know, have stuff that came out yesterday,” McAfee said. “It’s a mix of everything you know, we sell new and used vinyl and CDs and cassettes and everything.”
David Lewis, owner of Elizabeth’s Records, said while other record stores focus on carrying newer things, his store focuses on bringing underrated music into the light.
“We have, what most people say, is the largest jazz selection in Columbus,” Lewis said. “We have a large international selection, a very deep classic country section, which people are always marveled by. So, it’s not just a matter of having, you know, the same records that people would buy all the time like Fleetwood Mac ‘Rumors’ or ‘Led Zeppelin IV.’ It goes deeper than that.”
Lewis said he feels the pandemic largely contributed to the increase in record sales.
“Well, I hate saying this because we lost people that we knew and loved, but the pandemic was a really good time for us financially,” Lewis said. “We have a robust inventory of stuff on Discogs, and people being stuck at home during the pandemic was just a boom for us.”
Lewis said although he wasn’t selling records face to face with people during the pandemic, he was still actively organizing online orders. He said selling online is a big reason for the current rise in sales.
“I would come in here, and I would work six days a week just getting orders out to people even though the store wasn’t open,” Lewis said. “I mean, we were not open for most of that year, so I think that the results you’re talking about in early 2022 are reflective of that because after we were able to open and some people were coming in droves just to experience being in a record store again.”
Lewis said along with selling records online, it is important to his store to be active on social media — specifically Instagram and Facebook — so people stay up to date on the store’s activities.
“Those two being the most communicative social media platforms is probably best for the store,” Lewis said. “Especially Instagram because it’s so visually oriented, that you can just flip through some records and the next thing you know, you have people calling or texting you saying ‘Can you hold that for me?’ So, it’s vital.”
McAfee said Magnolia also focuses on having an active social media presence to reach a large audience.
“We’ve been here since the ’70s,” McAfee said. “As vinyl sales keep going up, you know, everything, we see a lot of younger people coming in, a lot of college kids, myself included, start collecting or just buying records because, you know, it’s cool.”
McAfee said as the social media person for Magnolia, he constantly talks with people on different platforms about the store’s inventory and what it sells.
“We had two girls come here the other day, and they were like ‘Oh, we saw you guys on TikTok, so we wanted to drive down and visit,’ which made me feel good because yeah, I’m doing my job right, and we’re actually getting those customers based off social media,” McAfee said.
McAfee said Magnolia also sells some of its inventory on Discogs and directly on its website to appeal to a wider range of people.
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