What Record Stores Will Look Like In the Future

Recollect Records, Denver, CO
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Recollect Records, Denver, CO
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Recollect Records, Denver, CO

Very chic, very expensive: welcome to the record store of the future.

Back in February, we profiled the opening of Stax of Wax, a gorgeous vinyl boutique that debuted in Malibu Beach.  The place was packed during its debut, with upscale crowds cramming the joint since.

But Stax of Wax appears to be one of several boutique vinyl retailers emerging, which makes sense given a meteoric comeback in vinyl sales since around 2005.  And the latest vinyl shop to join the parade is Recollect Records, which opens its doors in Denver this Saturday.

The blueprint here seems remarkably similar: smaller, chic selection complemented by ample industrial-looking ambience (exposed wood beams and polished concrete floors help).  Toss in some cool clothing and peripherals, mark up the price a bit, and you’re looking at the record store of the future.

Recollect Records officially filed its business paperwork last year, and this Saturday (April 30th), the shop is having its grand opening celebration.  For those in the Denver area, the party starts at noon and ends at 5 pm, and the address is 1255 C Delaware St., Denver, Colorado 80204 (Facebook invite here).  DJ Red C and Felix Fast4ward will be spinning.

The low-rise, simple space is perfect for this sort of thing, and Recollect will probably do well.  And, maybe, smashingly well: for starters, the crowd that comes to buy vinyl is already prepared to pay higher prices for what they want.  These are people with money that already have an expensive habit (which requires disposable cash).  That’s nothing against bargain shoppers and used vinyl enthusiasts, but half the time, that’s the same person that pays for newer stuff as well (incidentally, Recollect will have a backroom area for bargain, used LPs).

The question is whether vinyl goes mainstream: last year, LPs approached 12 million units in the US alone, according to Nielsen Music, a 30 percent jump.  That’s up another 10 percent in 2016, which sounds great, but still makes it difficult to predict where this all goes.  That uncertainty spells opportunity for bold movers like Recollect, though there’s clearly money to be made right now.

That said, if 2016 materializes into another record year, expect a lot more record stores to emerge, with similar, boutique approaches.

And, bigger players as well.  Recollect, like Stax of Wax, has the advantage of catering to a local audience, and communities can grow around great record shops.  But larger retailers are also sniffing the opportunity, with Urban Outfitters one early mover.  According to its own claims, Urban Outfitters is now the largest record retailer in the US, with vinyl sales now complemented by music merchandise and even hip, portable turntables.

But there’s another area that may also expand: the completely un-cool record retailer, just like the old days.  Also jumping on board is Barnes & Noble, a retailer that lacks the same cool factor, but is smart enough (and diversified enough) to capitalize on the trend.  Indeed, it’s entirely likely that you’ll be able to find your favorite vinyl at some outrageously unhip places, including your local supermarket.

6 Responses

  1. Rikard Vagner

    Long live the brick and mortar record store.

    Something like CDs will one day return when generations of consumer zombies wake to the fact that having a hard copy and playing hi fidelity mitigates anything the smug cleverness of digital-gadget technology can ever produce with its crap compression, crap audio, crap dependence upon OSs and ephemeral very limited-life hard drives, crap ear-destroying headphone-lifestyle, crap rip-off distribution business models…and the brick and mortar will be right there waiting.

  2. Remi Swierczek

    There is no records, vinyl records are temporary hype so I have no FOGGY vision of any future record store!!!

    Then I can see any Radio station as a MUSIC STORE – $20 million a year for some NY, LA, London or Chicago stations and at least one million for Akron, Reno or Reykjavik.

    There’s over 100,000 hungry Radio stations willing and able to become music stores.
    Labels have to STOP STREAMING SUICIDE and start common sense music business!

  3. Nicky Knight

    I would love record shops to exist like in the old days but I fear it won’t be the case because it’s a very different economic world we live in now.

    Retail rents have sky rocketed in most desirable cities around the world (US, CA, AUS, UK etc..) and you need margin and volume to survive. You need a popular product as well..

    I think recorded music is really a digital delivery entertainment experience now for the most part and unfortunately so much of it is free through the YouTube portal.

    But never the less… fans like to own a physical artifact and have it on the bookshelf as part of a collection.. so there will be a market for vinyl and CDs but not necessarily a super huge one.