With vinyl records being produced again, Ed Swarts may have to open a used CD shop to qualify as a specialist in retro sound.
Nah, probably not going to happen. Swarts started a used record store because of his love for all things vinyl – from album covers that are works of art to the warmer sound provided by analog technology to the very act of placing a record on a turntable.
Last month, Swarts moved his 7-year-old Spin It Again Records store to a new location on the west side, at Central and Tyler. Swarts said he had been thinking about making the move from east Harry even before his landlord decided to do something different with the property.
“We wanted to get further west so some of the west-side people could come get some records,” he said.
Swarts got into the business after building mobile homes for 23 years. Laid off at the age of 50, “I just said I ought to open up a record store.”
He started by expanding his already sizable record collection. Soon, he was buying from and selling to a steady stream of vinyl aficionados such as himself. Customers range from young people who grew up on digital music to older folks “looking for records they had and lost when they moved or got divorced.”
“I have a lot of regular customers that come in all the time,” he said. “Even the ones that live in western Kansas or Colorado or California, they come when they're in the area.”
Swarts carries some of the new vinyl records that are being made today but most of his inventory is from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s. Swarts said he goes through a “pretty big process” getting records ready for resale, starting with evaluating potential buys for “wobble” on the turntable, then cleaning them with special tools and placing them in new inner liners. Records that are playable but not in top shape are sold in a $3 bin.
The new location has slightly more room than his previous spot. Most of the store's 7,000 or so records are rock and pop records arranged in alphabetical order, with smaller sections devoted to 45s, jazz, blues and country music.
There's a listening station with headphones where customers can check out records before they buy. Swarts also carries new and used record players, turntables, turntable belts, needles, album sleeves, cassette tapes, 8-track tapes, 45 adapters, music videos on VHS and more. He repairs turntables.
Swarts' personal musical preferences run to the classic rockers who emerged in the ’70s – Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton, Foghat. The most valuable records tend to be a little older, like the original “Chantilly Lace” by The Big Bopper released in late 1958, or the 1966 Beatles album with the famous “butcher cover.”
Swarts admits he has trouble parting with those.
“It's more of a thing 'if the price is right.”