The phrase “history repeats itself” is tossed around frequently and when CDs took over as the main way to consume music in the 90s, no one ever thought that phrase would apply to vinyl. Fast forward to the modern day and vinyl LPs are making an unpredictable resurgence over the past decade, hitting a new high in 2021. Vinyl made up 11% of music sales last year, bringing in a reported $1 billion in total sales.
With vinyl steadily rising over the last decade, your local record shop is getting more and more crowded every year. These once hallowed grounds are now filled with new life and the shelves are stocked with multiple color variants of your favorite album of the year. Whether you’re stocking up on classics or starting up a new collection, local record stores are the backbone to any good vinyl collection.
Vinyl Lives is Glide’s look into record shops around the country, highlighting hidden gems and popular local spots. In this edition, we cover Turn It Up Records, a fiercely independent operation with a select three shops located along the I-91 corridor between Northampton, MA, and Brattleboro, VT. Turn it Up specializes in discounted physical music and has a rotating supply of used LPs and CDs. We had a chance to talk to founder Patrick Pezzati about his aptly named records shops.
What is the short history of Tun It Up! & how much of your stock is new vs old?
The first Turn It Up! opened at our current location in Northampton, MA on November 24, 1995. The idea came from a conversation between Patrick Pezzati and Chandra Hancock, record shop veterans of several years, lamenting the standard blandness of local shops in the area. From the beginning, the idea was to offer an alternative to the $18+ CD that all local indie shops specialized in. We decided to offer only used or overstock titles so that we could keep the price around $8 a disc. We also wanted to combine indie shop know-how with chain store friendliness.
Other than your own store, what and where is the greatest record store shopping experience you ever had? What is your greatest $1 bin find?
My greatest experiences mostly involved hole-in-the-wall used shops in Boston, New York, etc, though I did enjoy Tower Records a lot as a consumer, though my entrepreneur’s brain cringed at the insane overhead costs they must have had.
Best $1 bin finds are too many to list because I’ve bought everything from original Great White Wonder bootlegs to original jazz rarities for about 50 cents over the years. I’ve also dug up some great treasures in pallets of overstock, from Bear Family box sets to Japanese Blue Note CDs.
Do you have a cheap bin and what do you typically find in there?
Of course, and people have found treasures in there because we make mistakes! I’ve found some gold in there myself!
What used record do you hope to never have to see or listen to again?
It’s funny because many records that used to be rejected now sell quite well. Cat Stevens is an example. There are many artists that I might not remember fondly – lots of 80s pop music, for example – but young kids are now buying. So I’m never going to wish that people don’t buy something. Personally, though, I hope to never have to hear the Dave Matthews Band again.
How has the backup at pressing plants affected what release day means and has there been any sort of backlash about this?
Not sure about backlash because our customers understand, but of course. Luckily for us we have consciously stayed away from being a “new release” oriented shop so we’ve not had to deal with a mad rush for any hit records.
Thoughts on CDs making a small comeback in the last year?
I love CDs and never stopped listening to them or buying them. My first record store job was at Discount Records in Harvard Square in April 1986. When I started, we had 95% vinyl and a small bin of CDs. By the end of ’86 it was reversed. While I love vinyl, I also get why people were really attracted to CDs. Now we see young people come in and buy, say, the Beatles on LP but Pearl Jam on CD because it’s $5-$8 while the record costs a lot more.
You’d be surprised to know but we sell a lot of __
Many artists that aren’t necessarily “hip”, whether it’s mid-70s stuff like James Taylor or Cat Stevens or mid-90s stuff like Cranberries or even Britney Spears. Lately, Joan Baez has been selling well again, as have musicals. We’ve always sold all genres and all formats and tried to avoid getting pigeonholed and only appealing to a certain type of buyer.
What has been your top-selling record this year so far?
Probably Kendrick Lamar but we don’t really sell “hits”. The last time we sold over 20 copies of a new record it was then 79-year-old Bob Dylan’s latest.
What labels do you find consistently put out the best product in terms of packaging?
Light In The Attic is great. Numero Group too.
As a store, what record labels do you feel best represents what you try to curate?
4 Men With Beards and Stones Throw Records are two labels we’ve been stocking a lot lately, in addition to the aforementioned Light In The Attic and Numero Group.
What is the most expensive record in your store right now?
We have an Eric B and Rakim set that’s $160.
Have you had any in-store signings or performances? What are some of the more memorable ones you’ve had?
We’ve had some great ones, even though the Northampton shop is quite small so we can’t fit more than a small combo. Local favorites the Stone Coyotes were one of the best. We had Josh Ritter play for about eight people in the Northampton shop, staff included. Rough Francis had a great show in Brattleboro, as did Sunburned Hand of the Man. and Doug Paisley.
Check out the extensive selection of collectible LPs and CDs at Turn It Up’s Discogs store by clicking here