Pompano Beach – For all of the convenience and affordability provided to music lovers by digital downloads and streaming services like Spotify, there is still a special enjoyment that comes with spending an afternoon in a shop browsing through shelves of records and chatting with clerks and fellow customers.
The digital age has yet to fully compensate for this comfort, but thanks to places like the Record Rack in Pompano Beach, your friendly neighborhood record store is not a thing of the past.
The resurgence of vinyl records in recent years has not only helped to sustain the pastime of shopping for music the old-fashioned way, but also provides a superior listening experience, according to many audiophiles. Record Rack owner Ritchie Siegrist says that newer vinyl releases offer a higher audio quality than compressed digital files. “In the 70s they were cutting a lot of corners on materials when pressing records,” says Siegrist. “The 180-gram vinyl used for records today produces a much cleaner sound, without the hissing and crackling of older records.”
Improvements in sound quality have only expanded the already revitalized niche market of vinyl records.
In addition to new music being released on vinyl, record companies have been opening up their archives and remastering classic albums for release on high quality 180-gram vinyl. Brand new, pristine copies of anything from The Beatles’ “Please Please Me” to Captain Beefheart’s “Trout Mask Replica” are now readily available for collectors and casual listeners alike.
The growing popularity of special vinyl releases is no more apparent than on “Record Store Day,” an annual nationwide even held in April where rare releases, special sales and live performances draw large crowds to independent record stores with customers often lining up around the block for their chance to score on great deals.
First conceived in 2007, Record Store Day has been so successful that it has now become a bi-annual occasion, with a second event coinciding with the popular “Black Friday” sales on the day after Thanksgiving.
Siegrist prepared for the crowds with several promotions in addition to the special releases themselves, including raffles, giveaways, special sales and live music by local band Exit 27.
Siegrist began working at the store about fifteen years ago, when it was located a couple of blocks east of its current location.
Back then it was called “The CD Collector”, specializing in new and used CDs.
By the time Siegrist took over ownership, he began to see the writing on the wall of the CD market.
“More and more customers started coming in looking for vinyl,” he says. “It was pretty clear where this was going.”
In 2008, the store was renamed the Record Rack and began phasing out its CD inventory in exchange for new and used vinyl. As the market for vinyl has grown, Siegrist has been able to hold a higher standard for what goes on the shelves at Record Rack. “It’s always frustrating when I get a collection of records that wind up being scratched, warped or damaged. So, I make sure every record that comes in is in good shape, and I clean it and test it before I put it out for sale.”
Five years ago, Siegrist moved the store to its current location at 2205 E Atlantic Blvd.