The Record Store Report: Burlington Records (Burlington, VT)

The Record Store Report: Burlington Records (Burlington, VT)

August 14, 2019 1 By Kailee Schamberger


Hey, gang! This is Matt and we’re gonna
take a visit to Burlington Records right here in Burlington Vermont. So, let’s go! So, when you come to the store, the first
place you’re going to check is the New Arrivals section. It’s basically right
near the front door and you will find all sorts of good stuff. This is
definitely where I come first. Originally, Burlington Records was
Riverwalk Records in Montpelier for a long period of time
and then moved up to Burlington and we were in on our Bank Street location for
just shy of a decade so pretty long time, then in this new location at College
Street for the last two months. So, you’re Ian! Yep. Ian is my name, yeah. And you own the
place? Yeah I’ve been an owner here since 2014 and work here since 2009 — late
2009, actually… I’m sorry, it’s probably 2010 yeah, so, yeah, this has been a little… a
big part of my life for a while, yeah. Why’d you move here, specifically? Um, well
I mean, we had always wanted a bigger space. I mean, a lot of people remember
the other space as really cramped. We didn’t have a lot of room to move around
We did have a second floor for awhile but there was mainly, like,
classical and world up there and it was really inaccessible for customers so it
was kind of a waste of space. So we’re kind of fine getting rid of that and
also, you know, other than the fact that we were looking to upgrade. Ken’s was
looking to expand their kitchen into that area and so just, like, alright, well, here
we go. So, would you say this is better here? Yeah, I mean, ideally it’s
gonna be a little bit better because College Street is a little bit more
accessible for people actually shopping there’s more shops on College Street. Also,
you know, some really cool bars on College Street, restaurants, so that’s
kind of something that we were looking for. I mean, I think College is like the
best street in Burlington – yeah, but honestly, with business, I mean, we
really haven’t skipped a beat no pun intended… you know, but, like, it’s
been just, like, we had like a couple days we had to kind of, like, people had
to figure out where we were but since then it’s been, it’s been great. And it’s
been great too in the winter, which is a really good sign, you know, so… So,
vinyl has resurged in the past years. Has that helped out your business? Yeah,
yeah, absolutely, you know, I do have other people —
Ian and I have other people — unlike the retail world friends of ours, and they
can talk about the retail apocalypse and all this stuff and not to be cocky or
anything but it really hasn’t applied to us, you know. We’ve been just fine and
growing, you know, and that’s kind of maybe something a little bit different
right now for a retail store to be growing but we certainly are. In terms of
resurgence of vinyl, I mean, there’s no doubt about it. It has, it has come back. I
think that things like this, more analogue, more tangible, physical kind of
things are gonna continue to resurge because people, at least, conscious
people are feeling… yeah, yeah, really distant, you know, with, like, just
everything being on a phone and not being able to kind of reach out to
something and so I think that’s definitely a big part of it and
obviously for a lot of people, you know, including you, vinyl really didn’t go
anywhere, you know. So it’s making our lives easier
now that there are, this, like, mass amount of new labels printing great music and…
yeah, it’s definitely a good time, for sure.
Business is continually getting better and better. Yeah, I mean,
there’s a pretty large rise in interest in
music, I think. Not that there never was before but this format lends itself to
that increase of interest – so yeah I mean we’ve been doing really well. The
original owner started the business in 2009 and that was… if you look at the
trajectory of the vinyl sales probably the… just before it started to pick up. So
the intent was not to just, like, oh it’s getting, you know, popular like that’s
started shop, you know, it was… we just really love… we just really love it
and it happened to work out at the exactly very time, you know the market,
the housing market was down, rents were fairly low. We found a really great spot
up on Bank and we did it straight for ten years, better and better every
single year. Great for sellers, great for buyers. Yeah, definitely great for buyers. I
love that there’s more vinyl out there. When I come, I shop and I buy. And that
there’s people who care about it, you know? So you guys are behind the
Burlington Record Fair. How long have you guys… yeah… and how did that start? So… this is
the fourth one. I guess, it just started in the spirit of,
you know, like, this is what cities do. They put these on and vendors can
congregate and we’ve had great showings from north of the border, from Vermont,
but also neighboring states. And so the fourth annual one is Sunday March… or
Sunday MAY 19th, 11:00 to 4:00 and then we do the same
kind of format where it’s, like, from 11:00 to 12:00, the early birds, 5 bucks
then after that it’s free and that’s at Nectars and we’re expecting just another
solid showing they’re, you know, DJ’s all day and great vendors, good
beer, yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s, that’s good and that’s good, that’s what we look for.
Two years ago, we had a friend of ours that had a whole, like, lot of hip hop and
that was awesome. He did great because… and that’s the kind of thing with metal
too. it’s, like, we do need those other genres because it’s hard to find used
in those, you know, more… not niche when I say hip hop and metal but lesser
popular genres compared to just classic rock, you know. I started it roughly three
years ago just as a way to kind of build a community around this thing and to
connect with all all the stores together that were in Burlington and
surrounding regions. It’s just a really fun day. So… and now it’s gonna be the 4th
year we”re still at Nectar’s… love those guys Yeah, so what’s the strangest record
someone’s tried to sell you? Well, yeah, I don’t, I don’t really know, I
don’t know the answer to that question. I mean, there’s always a lot of, like, really
like hokey Vermont stuff that comes in and unless it’s something that we know
we can sell, we usually, you know, don’t really buy a lot of that stuff. There has been one and I can’t remember the exact title but it’s a record we
kind of just like rolled our eyes to four years but then recently because of
some like niche cult thing, it became like a hundred dollar record out of
nowhere and then every time we saw it, we were, like, grabbing it so… I mean, I guess
it’s, like, these, like, you know, lesser-known
Vermont… Vermont, like, old Vermont records they come in. Those are always a
little strange, yeah. Have you ever been stumped as to how do
you price a record? Does a record come in and you’re, like, I can’t find anything on
this… yeah, absolutely, absolutely because there’s a lot of records to come
in that are, like, unofficial releases and you can’t really find a lot of sales
history for those, so that can be very tricky. Research… research, yeah.
It’s also just experience in eyes, I mean, obviously, you know, Ian’s at the top of
that list for us… I’m, you know, I’m there close to a second there for recognizing
things but… you always see new things, it’s amazing, it’s just amazing how many
records there are out there, you know, so yeah. Any weird customer stories? Man,
there’s always weird customers especially in an environment that is… we’re not a thrift shop by any means but an environment that offers cash for
items, you always have some weird, some weird things. I remember one guy trying
to sell me a Bonnie Raitt record and he was a little off
and I turned him away and he looked at me outside the shop and smashed the
record over his knee and I locked the door for about a half-hour after that
and just let him drive away but… yeah, individuals like that, you know, they’re
coming and looking for money, sometimes they can be a little weird.
For more info on Burlington Records, check out the link below. Also,
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