Local record stores look for business in revitalized areas

All ages are buying vinyl, but not enough, says one store owner.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

In the spring of 2022, the Carder brothers found themselves in the record business. Dondi, Jason and Justin have owned Unsung Salvage at 212 Main St. in Hamilton since 2017, but bought Main Street Vinyl in 2022 and moved it into their store.

Dondi Carder said he expected the record side of the business to do as well as it did at Main Street Vinyl which was previously a few doors down at 220 Main St.

“When we were getting the record store we thought we would probably have a bigger crowd because we would have our faithful base and then add [Main Street Vinyl customers] to it,” Carder said. “But I don’t know if that’s the trend so far.”

Carder said the main issue is that many customers will walk through the store but not buy anything. He said there has been an uptick in foot traffic since Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill opened in the city, but there hasn’t been the jump in business that was expected.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“Families are waiting on a table for Billy Yanks or Fretboard and they’ve got a half hour to kill, so they walk in here and just look around and look through the records,” Carder said. “I love to have that, but as far as purchases they’re just not pulling the trigger.”

Although the records are not selling as well as they did down the street, Carder said the business is still doing well and bringing attention to other products. Alongside the records, Unsung sells custom-made shirts, custom-made wood fixtures and local art.

When Eric, Jack and Mitch DePrato opened Three Feather Records at 1105 Magie Drive in Fairfield in the fall of 2021, they didn’t know how the business would turn out. Two-and-a-half years later, Mitch Deprato said the business is doing well.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“We’ve been surprised at how well it’s been,” Deprato said.

More than 49 million vinyl albums were sold in 2023, according to Billboard, with 57% of all physical album sales being vinyl records. Three Feather Records, along with Unsung Vinyl on Main Street in Hamilton make up the two largest record stores in Butler County.

The Depratos started the store by selling their personal vinyl collections and have now moved to regularly buying collections that make up the more than 3,000 albums available for purchase in the store. Deprato said the majority of sales made are with regulars or with customers during concerts in the store on Saturdays.

Although the average customer is in their 20s, Deprato said customers range from age 10 to late-60s and the albums attract all ages and types of people.

“We’ll have 8-year-olds coming in here and saying ‘I want this album and this album,’” Deprato said. “They’ll come up [to the register] with a stack of albums that they picked themselves.”

Deprato said the store is expanding into the space next door soon to have more space for concerts on Saturdays and offer snacks and drinks.

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