For Orillia's Dave Mitchell, it’s all about the process.
Unlike other musical media, vinyl records still fully involve the listener in the experience. From selecting an LP from one’s collection, removing it from the sleeve and placing it on the turntable, there’s just something special about the process, according to Mitchell.
“There’s more of a relationship with the music,” Mitchell said as he perused records Saturday at Alleycats Music & Art during International Record Store Day.
“It’s the best sound quality and there’s such a smooth sound. I also like looking at the cover work.”
Mitchell was shopping for both himself and a friend who recently celebrated his 30th birthday.
“I’ve picked out albums from each decade for him,” said Mitchell, who was also selecting three “birthday gift” albums given to him by his wife.
“I like to collect records and support my local shop as well. I come out for this every year.”
The store had an early-morning lineup along Mississaga Street East with music aficionados waiting patiently to whet their vinyl appetites.
Barrie resident Steve Verschaeve, who was third in line, couldn’t wait to get home with his purchases that included albums by Neil Young, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Otis Redding with Booker T. and the MG’s.
“Right now, I’m really into Neil Young,” he said, noting he’s also excited about the Otis Redding LP since the music was recorded before he was born.
“I love good music and this is good music from before my time.”
Like others visiting Alleycats, Verschaeve enjoys everything about vinyl, including the vibrant cover art that’s virtually non-existent with online tunes and too small to really digest with compact discs.
“We just love the music, plain out,” said Verschaeve, who currently counts about 700 LPs in his collection.
“I just love the pure sound you get from vinyl and also like getting up to flip the record over to the other side. I’m glad it’s back.”
Kelly Marlow, of Beeton, said collecting vinyl sometimes transports her to another time.
“It brings me back to when I’m younger,” said. “I also really like the sound.”
Alleycats employee Rob Gronfors said vinyl will always have a special relationship with music lovers like himself.
“I have about 2,000 LPs and have always loved the sound and look of records,” said Gronfors, whose favourite genre remains progressive rock, including bands like King Crimson, early Genesis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Gronfors said more young people are getting into vinyl nowadays.
“We get kids come in from high school who are interested in some of the older bands,” he said. “The kids also grew up watching their parents play records.”
The downtown Orillia store recently doubled in size to better accommodate not only its vinyl and CD inventory, but also to display its other music-related paraphenalia including a larger t-shirt collection.
“It’s been great, but seems a little tamer than last year,” Gronfors said about this year’s International Record Store Day.
“But last year, we didn’t have three buildings and as much space to move around.”
According to owner Mike Rothwell, the store started off as a little alley store for three years and was about seven-foot wide. It expanded in 2015 to 1,000 square feet and recently blossomed to 2,000 square feet.
“We feel we’re the right size now,” Rothwell said. “People like it, they come and go ‘wow’ and look around.”