Vinyl Obsession: Revilla Grooves on Main Thrives in the Age of Streaming Page 2

S&V: I suspect part of this is generational, driven by kids learning about and sharing music with their parents, which is really cool.
Revilla: I get a lot of father/sons, father/daughters in here—and mother/sons, too.

S&V: With the generation before that wasn’t necessarily the case—there was more of a divide.
Revilla: Totally. It’s funny how cool Led Zeppelin still is to kids and how cool Neil Young is and Janis Joplin. In my experience I’ve found that lists on the Internet—you know, 100 songs you have to hear before you die—are really helping brick and mortar. In the record dealing community we were all wondering why Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours—a record you couldn’t move 10 years ago—was selling so well. Now you can take Rumours to Brooklyn, put a $5 or $10 sticker on it, and you will sell every copy. It’s on a bunch of lists of records you have to own.

Kids are buying records because they want to listen to pop music and they’re enjoying it. I don’t want to insult anyone, but the record snobbery of even my generation—I’m only going to buy Sun Ra records or I want to buy the rarest first copy Impulse!—is gone. It’s just people with smiles on their faces—they’re not trying to one-up each other.

S&V: It’s about the music…
Revilla: …and the physicality of it. Today people are getting their music from the streaming services…SoundCloud.

S&V: It’s definitely shifting.
Revilla: You have 20-year-olds who are getting thousands of tunes from Pandora or Spotify and making playlists but they still want the physical product. They can hang covers on the wall and have a cool collection of maybe 100 pieces that looks great just sitting there. I remember being in my 20s and going to another kid’s house and they had maybe 200 records. I’d be like [whispers]...oh man. I’d sit there and just dig through. We thought that had gone away but it hasn’t. It’s not a lot of fun to scroll through an iTunes playlist, is it? But gettin’ your hands dirty and—oh my God—finding something like Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly! Now I see it every day. But 20 years ago…no way!

S&V: Tell me about your inventory. How many categories? What sells best? I know you have some very cool sub-categories.
Revilla: Sure. It’s a little different than what sells best. It’s how you advertise it. If I get a crazy jazz collection I’ll put it up on Instagram and Facebook and then the jazz guys start coming in. If I get a crazy metal collection of first-press Metallica and Slayer records, I put that up online and I get those guys coming in.

S&V: So you’re driving it…
Revilla: Yes. Now, without that influx of super collections, the general sales are rock and classic rock all day long. As I was saying before, those records were not so easy to sell back in the day—Fleetwood Mac, Meatloaf, Bruce Springsteen—but now I can sell Springsteen all day long. It’s amazing.

S&V: Is that because the younger kids are coming of age and wanting to find this music?
Revilla: That, and people my age or older who sold their collections and are buying it back.

S&V: Nostalgia…
Revilla: Yeah. And then there are guys my age who are getting back into record collecting. They have a little more money to spend so they’re upgrading only to the cleanest pieces. But rock is always great. And good metal, I cannot keep in the store. If I advertise it, the best pieces are gone in a day.

S&V: Like what?
Revilla: I just sold Metallica’s Master of Puppets, as clean as I’d ever seen it, for $65. Slayer’s Reign in Blood is a $35 to $50 record. Funk and soul doesn’t sell as well as I wish—I love that stuff—but I do get some heavy diggers. I’ve got a couple customers who are into soundtracks. And, like I said, when I have the good jazz, it’s hard to keep in. I have a good collection now but the heavy hitters—guys who buy only topnotch stuff—have been through it. Michael Jackson’s Thriller—I could sell a copy of that a day. Carol King’s Tapestry is another one of those records because of the play [Beautiful–The Carole King Musical], I guess.

S&V: It’s got songs with staying power.
Revilla: It’s a great record. It’s like I was saying before: The snobbery is gone. It’s okay now to work in a record store and like Tapestry. Honest to goodness, if you liked Tapestry and worked at the Princeton Record Exchange in 1997, somebody was going to say something.

Then I hit the jackpot. He had a bunch of Italian prog rock and an album Alphataurus that ended up going for three grand to some guy in Russia, who bought another $2,000 worth of records out of the pile.

S&V: It was probably the same for the Carpenters, even though everyone was a closet fan.
Revilla: How could you not be? Karen Carpenter had a beautiful voice. That snobbery is gone—at least in my store. You come in here and buy a Carpenters record or an Ink Spots record, I’m happy to sell it to you and happy to talk about it. I’m learning a ton from my customers. The Ink Spots are a great example. I’ve seen thousands of Ink Spots records but I never thought I could sell. Nobody cared. Then they put “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire” on the soundtrack of the videogame, Fallout 3. A guy who’s probably 30 years old heard the song in a commercial for the videogame and came in dying for Ink Spots records. I told him, you know what, if you like The Ink Spots, you’ll like The Mills Brothers and I sold him a Mill Brothers record.

Sinatra, too. When I opened the shop last year, suddenly everybody wanted Sinatra records, which I never thought would happen. And that’s fantastic. Sérgio Mendes is another one. I never thought I’d sell a Sérgio Mendes record.

S&V: He was actually out on tour last year at 75 years old.
Revilla: That might be part of it.

S&V: So you go to a lot of places to hunt down records. What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever found a cool record, or records? And what was it?
Revilla: I got a call from a woman near Pittsburgh in January. Her brother passed away and she said he had thousands of 45s, some LPs, and started reading off a list. Oh, those are prog(ressive) rock records, I should probably check this out, so I got my brother to go with me and we drove there on a hunch. I’m taking a chance now—five hours out, five hours back—gotta do it in a day. It was cold and the back roads to the house were snow-covered so we had to find another way in. We finally get there and I’m thinking I hope there’s some Can records in here and I hope the Gentle Giant record, In a Glass House, I’m looking for is in here. It was that kind of stuff.

I start going through just the prog stuff and right away I see Can, Ege Bamyasi. Oh, look, there’s two more Can records. I hit the Gentle Giant section and there’s the record I’m looking for. Prog masterpiece after prog masterpiece. Oh my goodness. I had no idea from what she had told on the phone me how good it really was. Ash Ra Tempel, all the Amon Düül records—everything. So I was just in seventh heaven. And then I hit the jackpot. He had a bunch of Italian prog rock and an album Alphataurus that I never heard of before. [The band released one self-titled album in 1973.] We get back to NJ, I put it up online and, Day One, I’m getting offers: I’ll give you $1,500 for that record right now. That’s the key to say, no. That record ended up going for three grand to some guy in Russia, who bought another $2,000 worth of records just out of the pile. I sent them all off to Russia in a big box. That was the craziest collection. I made my money back on the 45s alone, selling them bulk to a guy who deals in 45s.

S&V: How much did you pay? Was there a lot of mint stuff?
Revilla: I paid $5,000 and the records were all near-mint to mint condition. That’s one. Here’s another. A guy up in the Albany (NY) area calls—his brother who passed away was a DJ on college radio for decades—and says, yeah, I got some Pink Floyd, some Syd Barret, some Stooges. I’ll be there next week, no problem. Someone tells you that and there’s 2,000 records, you fly. It’s summertime, probably six months after Pittsburgh, and it’s hot as can be. We’re moving everything from an outdoor storage unit to the back of our U-Haul truck and I see two boxes of 45s and grab them. I open one up and see punk rock records on the top. As my brother’s driving, and I start looking through them and find the first issue Minor-Threat7 inches in their different color variations, Henry Rollins’ first band S.O.A., the The Fixx on early Touch and Go records—brand new. Just crazy. On top of all the great 45s, the guy had Black Flag Damaged on Unicorn with all the press materials because he was an Albany area DJ. Phenomenal collection—just sick. Beyond my wildest dreams. I paid $8,000 for that one.



Honestly speaking, I can't understand this resurrection of Vinyl in the digital age. In my humble opinion what can be considered a legitimate recording Vinyl is just one that is entirely processed in the analog world to its final manufacture. I disagree that a record that was processed 100% in the digital world, and then transferred to Vinyl, can have the same sound quality of a 100% native Vinyl from analog world. Long live to the return of Vinyl, but only for true ones, like those in used records store.

Anna Kirsten's picture

Since i was a child i dreamed about store like yours! Vinyl - is my best friend, i told you the truth! I listen vinyl all my life ( 24 years) and i think that nothing can be better! I am glad that i have found this site and especialy this post! Thanks!