May 9, 2017

CLE joins interest in vinyl records, opening of Wax Bodega

At the grand opening of Wax Bodega, a new vinyl record shop in Lakewood, co-founder Kyle Roeger spends most of his time mingling with the event’s guests, majority are young music-lovers in their early to late-20s.


Those guests, despite having any song they could ever want stored away in their cell phones, are eager to get their hands on the latest wax from a variety of hip and up-and-coming bands.


Roeger offers music suggestions to those unsure about their purchases, helps decide between records and breaks it to customers the vinyl they had their eyes on was already sold out.


“We wanted to do something that was more proactive and positive for the music community, and we wanted to create a record store that represented the community as best as it could,” Roeger, 32, said. “The idea of having the records there was a catalyst to be able to do something fun and cool and unique to the store.”
Roeger is one of many retailers tapping into millennials’ growing interest in vinyl records.


The idea for Wax Bodega sprouted when Roeger was working with clothing company Glamour Kills. The brand was partnering with pop-punk band the Wonder Years for a pop-up shop in their hometown of Philadelphia.


At first for Roeger, starting an immersive record store that hosted a selection of vinyl, clothing and live events geared toward a younger demographic was a joke.


That joke became a serious proposition in 2013.


“I see a lot of young people in the store that really get it and know the bands that we sell and work with,” Roeger said. “There’s the mid-20s/early-20s that already get it, and they’re just getting into wanting to have vinyl.”


In the past, customers would want one record here or there.


“Now, all of a sudden, they’ll come in and buy five to 10 records — walking out like a high schooler with books in their hand,” he continued. “They’re super excited about it and want to have their collection.”
Roeger said it’s more than just the better sound quality of vinyls that attracts younger people.


“Music is a funny thing because people interact with it for different reasons,” he said. “When you get hooked on music at a certain level, you don’t let it define you, but you take cues from it — it becomes a part of you.”
“It’s the physical act of having something they can open and seeing something really cool that the artist put a lot of time into,” Roeger added.


Sarah Roberts, a Communication major at Cleveland State University, mainly listens to music digitally, but she has friends with big collections.


“It’s really big with our generation right now because it’s different to us,” Roberts, 23, said. “We’re used to everything being perfectly processed and crisp and clear.


“To hear a little bit of crackle — the different little sounds that come with listening on vinyl — I think it adds a different atmosphere to it that we don’t usually hear,” she continued. “It adds more character to it.”
She mentions that this trend is interesting because vinyl takes more effort.


“Everything we do is as fast and easy as possible, so I think it says a lot about the people who listen to music on vinyl,” she said. “I know my friends that listen to vinyl are usually musicians themselves or have deep appreciation for music.”


Forbes has called this shift the “vinyl revolution” and reported that record sales increased 11.1 percent in 2016 after only increasing 0.7 percent in 2007. Over the past decade, total industrial sales have skyrocketed 1,125 percent.


Taylor Scott, a 23-year-old former Kent State University student and local musician, has friends who buy records all the time.


Like Roeger, Scott hypothe-sizes beyond better sound quality, young people are attracted to vinyl because it’s a “merch thing.”


“It’s the physical [concept of] having it,” Scott said. “They put it on their Instagram — it’s a whole community online.”


Even though Scott doesn’t have a huge vinyl collection now, he hasn’t ruled out starting one in the future.
“[For] fans of niche bands, it’s just really cool to have their records,” he said. “It’s a pride thing — a status symbol.”


For Roeger speaking with customers about music back at Wax Bodega, vinyls “perpetuate the discovery of music faster and more accurately than Spotify does.”


“Spotify and streaming and digital music is great,” he said. “It’s very easy, you can search things, find new music, but when you attach yourself to a band that becomes a piece of you and defines you, you look for ways to interact with it beyond just the digital space — going to shows, having a record, getting a T-shirt.”

 

Editor’s note: Caitlyn Ralph is a COM 326: Advanced Reporting student.




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