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Business still humming at Eastside vinyl shops even as retail giants enter the record scene

Gil Carranza of Golden Age Records | Javier Rojas

The resurgence of vinyl has attracted retail giants like Target and Amazon into the business. What does this mean for the small, indie record shops that championed the return of vinyl? Javier Rojas interviewed three Eastside record store owners to get their spin on vinyl sales.

By JAVIER ROJAS

EL SERENO — Gil Carranza remembers a time where he could walk down Huntington Drive in El Sereno and find multiple record stores spinning everything from Led Zeppelin to Muddy Waters.

“Growing up here, record stores were my escape and I would spend my afternoons browsing through boxes of vinyls,” Carranza said. “That’s why music is such a big part of me and this community.”

That’s also why in 2016 Carranza made the move to bring back a bit of nostalgia to the Eastside and open up Golden Age Records right on Huntington Drive. The record store reflects the ongoing popularity of U.S. vinyl record sales, which have grown  for more than a dozen years.

The 43-year-old owner has seen all types of customers come into the store, from young and old as well as long time collectors and those just joining the vinyl collecting scene.

“People that don’t even have a record player come in here and buy vinyl just because they want to capture a relic of music past,” Carranza said. “Sales are great here and hopefully I will soon be expanding this store into a bigger place.”

“There’s nothing like a record store where people from all over come to share and buy music” — Dan Cook

In Highland Park,  Dan Cook, owner of Gimme Gimme Records, has seen sales rise during the last decade and sees no end in sight.

“Everyone I talk to agrees they just sound better than streaming and people love the feel of touching an actual vinyl record,” said Cook who has been collecting records for 40 years.

Cook, who started selling records at flea markets when he lived in New York, has seen it all when it comes selling vinyl. He opened a store in 1994 in New York’s East Village when CDs ruled music sales. After 18 years, he brought his record store to York Boulevard. Two years later, moved the shop to Figueroa Street, home to several other record shops.

“There’s nothing like a record store where people from all over come to share and buy music,” Cook said. “That’s why I’ve been in this business for so long and it continues to thrive.”

“Vinyl is special to this community and I’m glad younger generations are getting into it” — Mario Reyes

While vinyl has made a comeback after virtually disappearing from store shelves, one business in East L.A. never abandoned vinyl.

When you walk into Sounds of Music on Whittier Boulevard, you are taken back to the 1960’s when vinyl ruled.  Yes, there are plenty of CDs here amid posters of lowriders.  But there are also scratchy sounds of vinyl records playing Chicano blues.

“We’ve been on this same corner for over three decades and the music has changed a bit since then but vinyl is always popular here,” says Mario Reyes whose brother Carlos is the owner.

This East LA music institution has played its part in shaping history on the Eastside as everyone from Los Lobos, Cheech and Chong and Oscar De La Hoya have visited the store.

“Vinyl is special to this community, and I’m glad younger generations are getting into it,” Reyes said. “They come in because music is their escape from their troubles and vinyl represents that more than ever.”

Javier Rojas is a freelance writer and award-winning photographer who lives in El Sereno

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2 comments

  1. Keep it up Gil,,its important that vinyl stay alive..the now and next generation should experience the sound and graphics of a record as it was meant to be seen and heard…Lou

  2. “Growing up here, record stores where my escape and I would spend my afternoons browsing through boxes of vinyls,” Carranza said.

    The plural of vinyl is vinyl.

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