Sticking to a tradition of vinyl
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 02:02
On the corner of 3rd and Monroe, with music posters and advertisements for local shows covering the storefront windows, one local business tries to hang on to what seems like the death of an industry.
Since 1974, Happy Trails Records has been one of a handful of used and new record stores within the city of Corvallis. While others have come and gone throughout the years, Happy Trails stands alone.
Doug DiCarolis, owner since 1986, still sits behind the counter organizing old CDs and vinyls wondering how much longer this will last.
As music moved to digital and downloads, the need for vinyl and CDs has dropped off the map. There becomes less of a need to go down and wait outside the local record shop for the newly released album of favorite bands when people can sit inside the comfort of their own homes and have their songs delivered straight to their computers.
“In 1991, when we were on 2nd St., we had a midnight release,” DiCarolis said. “There were 200 people outside waiting in the snow, partying … that was the high watermark of our business.”
According to DiCarolis, there had always been three or four record shops in Corvallis, but they are no longer in the city. Oddly enough, business is fueled by the purchases of vinyl, a music medium seemingly archaic when stacked up against the iPods and online options available today.
“It’s always a struggle,” DiCarolis said. “But we are selling more vinyl and less CDs … I don’t know if buyers of vinyl will be enough money to keep [Happy Trails] going.”
DiCarolis began pulling out albums he had for sale pointing out the cover and explaining the importance of listening to full albums in the order that was intended. While jazz and classic rock fill the majority of their shelves, new bands and modern releases of vinyl albums are also available.
He continued to explain the missing aspect of music when songs are shuffled around and bits of them are heard before skipping along the playlist, when a couple walked in looking for a specific album. DiCarolis told them he did not have it but could order it for them. Then they asked if there was another place in town to buy music.
“No” was all DiCarlos was able to say and he told them the closest places would be in Salem or Eugene.
But it is not just the local shops that have taken a hit. Even stores like Borders have shut down and Fred Meyer’s music has become a shell of what it once was.
Is there an importance in having some physical piece of music?
“There’s one fatal flaw with downloading,” DiCarolis said. “That item doesn’t physically exist. When you have a collection it actually retains value, when you download music it’s worthless.”
For DiCarolis, this does extend beyond simply money. He spoke of how music held the ability to inspire cultural movements. Listening became an activity and when he had a new album everyone would come over to listen to it. There was a whole experience to consuming music that is slowly fading out, DiCarolis said.
“It saddens me from an artistic standpoint,” DiCarlos said. “When you invest yourself more inside the music, it can really inspire and move you when it is not just background noise. … On the one hand I understand the new way, but I have experience in the other way as well and it was better.”
DiCarolis said no one knows what the future holds. He talked about how Eugene’s record convention last year was larger then ever and while there is a loyal customer base, he sees more and more college students coming in and buying vinyl.
But even while vinyl slowly climbs in popularity, it would be highly unlikely for vinyl to grow large enough in Corvallis to solely pay the bills. DiCarolis said larger cities will always have a place for used record shops and stores selling only vinyl records but Corvallis may not be able to match their abilities.
Ricky Zipp, news reporter