Record growth: Vinyl specialty shops on the rise in Dayton – dayton.com

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Growing up as a vinyl-buying obsessive in Centerville in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was at least one record store in every suburban Dayton community.
There were chain stores like Camelot Music, but most were locally owned like Gem City Records, Dingleberry’s, Renaissance Music Media, Second Time Around, Bullfrog Records, Peaches and Record Warehouse. They were retail outlets, sure, but these stores were a magical meeting place for music obsessives. They employed hometown music enthusiasts, who fostered a sense of community through critical feedback, background information and purchase recommendations.
Omega Music, which has been selling vinyl since the early 1980s, is the lone outlier from those days still carrying on that tradition. However, in the last several years, a new generation of vinyl specialty shops have been popping up in the Miami Valley. Skeleton Dust opened on Third Street in downtown Dayton in 2017 followed by Blind Rage Records on Watervliet Avenue in 2020. Catacomb Records in Kettering and Ron’s Records in New Lebanon both opened in the latter half of 2022. Like Omega, the new stores specialize in vinyl but also sell other physical media, apparel and more.
“Having more variety for people is just going to make everything better for everybody,” Skeleton Dust owner Luke Tandy said. “I never thought having other stores in town was a threat to my business. I always thought it was a great thing. Vinyl is really popular right now and it seems like it’s getting even more popular all the time. Having places that specialize in different things is going to increase record tourism in Dayton and that’s great.
“The rising cost of new vinyl might weed out some people that aren’t ready to pay those prices,” Tandy continued. “Of course, the value of used records is definitely going up too. I could see some plateau happening, but records aren’t going to go away by any means. Maybe it will level off and not be so crazy with prices, which honestly would be healthy overall.”

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Boom time
Juliet Fromholt, music director for WYSO-FM (91.3), worked in music retail when she was younger and is happily surprised to see new stores opening.
“It makes me so happy because there was a minute there where Omega was really the only game in town for vinyl,” Fromholt said. “Feathers and Game Swap both have a little bit, but in terms of a proper record store, Omega was it in Dayton. There is Toxic Beauty in Yellow Springs, which is a really good store. It’s really cool because the stores all complement each other.
“Skeleton Dust has their thing,” Fromholt continued. “You can go there for anything, but they have their specialties. Blind Rage has a great selection. Catacomb has its specialties. It feels like a really good and supportive ecosystem. They’re spaced out well. They’re all small enough where they can all work together in harmony.”
Gwen Downing-Groth opened Blind Rage Records in Belmont in August 2020.
“There is something really fun about seeing somebody else pick up one of your records and get excited about it,” she said. “People getting stoked about buying these things is my favorite part about selling records. People aren’t typically mad when they’re shopping for records. If I go to the grocery store, I’m mad at the price of everything. If I have to buy gas, I’m mad at the price of it.
“Pretty much anything else you have to go buy, it’s never as fun as going to buy a record,” Downing-Groth continued. “It’s probably very frivolous but it’s a fun thing to do, especially when you find something you’re looking for. That’s what keeps me interested in selling records.”
Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Big box competition
Vinyl sales have been steadily on the rise for more than a decade. In turn, it’s not surprising major retail outlets like Walmart and Target have gotten into the record-selling game.
“Some independent shops take offense to those stores selling vinyl, but I bought most of my earliest records from Kmart, JC Penney and Sears,” Downing-Groth said. “If you’re a kid from Xenia or somewhere that can’t get into Dayton, those stores have Metallica records and that’s great. Walmart, Target and other places carrying vinyl, that’s going to end sooner than later. I don’t see the interest in keeping it up.”
Tandy sees Skeleton Dust and other stores as a crucial alternative to large chain stores.
“You can choose how to spend your money,” he said. “I know people are always tempted to buy from big box stores that are selling records like Walmart, Target and so on but they are not contributing to the culture of music and record collecting like independent stores are. Independent stores are something unique in a community that is really important to have.”
Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Shop local
Having more specialty shops means more options for area vinyl enthusiasts. By purchasing physical media from the locally owned retailers, shoppers are not only putting money back into the local economy but also fostering community.
“From working in record stores to my career in radio, I’m the biggest believer in the importance of a place you can go with actual humans from your community,” Fromholt said. “They can get excited with you when you bring something up to the counter or offer a recommendation. I got some of my favorite records because a person whose taste I trusted said, ‘You need to hear this.’ Having that human, curatorial touch makes all the difference in the world. Having places where that can happen in our community is huge and important. The fact these record stores are all people that are community minded and want to be part of the music ecosystem just makes it even better.”
Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.
HOW TO SHOP
Blind Rage Records, 740 Watervliet Ave., Belmont, specializes is new punk and indie rock vinyl. Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. More info: www.facebook.com/blindragerecords.
Catacomb Records, 2310 W. Dorothy Lane, Kettering, is a heavy metal specialty shop with new and used stock. Open noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. More info: 937-572-6090 or www.catacomb-records.com.
Omega Music, 318 E. Fifth St., Dayton, sells new and used rock, hip-hop, R&B, funk, electronic and other styles. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. More info: 937-275-9949 or omegamusicdayton.com.
Ron’s Records, 635 W. Main St., New Lebanon, is a used vinyl shop. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More info: www.facebook.com/roundronsrecords.
Skeleton Dust, 133 E. Third St., Dayton, specializes in new noise, experimental and more while also offering used vinyl in a variety of styles. Open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More info: 937-221-8528.

About the Author

Don Thrasher, a native of Gadsden, Alabama, has been a weekly contributor for the Dayton Daily News since 2003. He covers national and international music, performance and art. Don is a versatile writer, who has interviewed ballet dancers, professional athletes, authors, comedians, filmmakers, rodeo clowns and other disparate figures.

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