Music fans know all about the vinyl renaissance. Seven years ago, about one million new albums were sold. This year, that number will top eight million — and that doesn’t account for the big business in used record sales.
Southern California is the epicenter, with more than 40 stores that sell used vinyl. In the new hipster mecca of Highland Park, there are four stores within about a mile radius.
Collector Chris Honetschlaeger noticed the trend and decided to open a store.
"I started seeing soccer moms buying records," he says, "and really what moved me was that every band that had something going, or had some momentum, was actually making a record and not making a CD."
Honetschlaeger owns a used vinyl store in Hollywood called The Record Parlour. He and his partner, Chadwick Hemus, opened the shop in August, 2013. They not only wanted a place to house their growing record collection, says Honetschlaeger, but to "create something even more than a record store ... a music store where people could come and feel at home."
The two buy record collections to keep their shelves stocked. Honetschlaeger says they recently bought a collection of about 15,000 records. "That's about half of our inventory," he says. So instead of putting thousands of albums in storage, Honetschlaeger decided to give some records away for free — 25 per customer to be exact.
Honetschlaeger says when he gives his records away, it turns into an event that people even skip work for. And that was the case on a recent autumn weekday.
"I'm playing hooky right now," said a customer named Matt, who didn't want to give his last name — for obvious reasons. Matt was one of the many people who crowded in the small outdoor patio of The Record Parlour to get his hands on some free vinyl.
While Matt was having a hard time finding what he wanted in the dozens of record-filled boxes, another customer was able to find some hidden gems.
"I found an old Al Jolson record, probably when he was performing in blackface," said an African-American woman named Constance. "But I think it's gonna be great research [for her theater work]. I think he was talented, regardless."
Constance said The Record Parlour is her favorite place to discover music to be inspired by. "I can't claim to be a cool hipster and know the record scene," she said. "[But] I know my neighborhood. I think this is a great addition to the community and so I come here."
The Record Parlour will offer more than 3,000 albums for $1 each on Jan. 3-4.