Wednesday, 12 August 2020

August 12 is National Vinyl Record Day: Q & A with a record store owner

Vinyl Dayz are here to stay: Shop owner of my favourite record store shares about his dream job


August 12 is National Vinyl Record Day: Q & A with a record store owner

Leaning back on my leather sofa with a cup of green tea steaming from an owl mug, a fake fireplace on my TV, and Frank Sinatra's smooth voice crooning over the faint crackle of the record as it spins on my Crosley turntable. That's paradise. Over the years, I've cultivated my love of vinyl and my record collection has taken on a life of its own, growing in size and eccentricity. I enjoy shopping for records just as much as I enjoy listening to them. Searching through stacks of albums is an amazing experience- if you can find a really cool record shop with a really cool shop owner. I've been fortunate to find a few of these hidden gems; places where shopping comes with a side of interesting conversation and you leave with a stack of records and a slew of stories.



August 12 is National Vinyl Record Day: Q & A with a record store owner


My absolute favorite record store is Vinyl Dayz. Located in Pembroke, Ontario, Vinyl Dayz is one of those hidden gems, tucked at the back of Bob' Music Plus. The shop is small, but the selection is large and the owner, Rob Boell, always has an interesting story to share. Since it's National Vinyl Record Day, I asked him to tell me a few stories and share his expertise. The first question I had for him was 'do you prefer vinyl?' which seems like a no-brainer, but with all of the different ways we can listen to music now, I was curious if it's still his favourite.


August 12 is National Vinyl Record Day: Q & A with a record store owner
Vinyl Dayz photo provided by Rob Boell

"I prefer vinyl for sure. It has a soul to its sound that can't be reproduced on digitized music formats," said Rob, referring to modern formats like mp3 and CD. "Even the ticks and crackles add to the atmosphere. It reminds me of the days gone by- the '70s- so that's the vintage part of it. I often say it can be like having bacon frying in the background, and who doesn't love bacon? Although, it can be tough playing my turntable in the car."


When it comes to bacon, Rob's shop has some fine cuts and prime meats. I've purchased my favourite albums from him, including Rubber Soul by The Beatles, Aladdin Sane by David Bowie, and Some Girls by The Rolling Stones. I've visited many record shops, and a few antique shops that sell records. I'm often in there for an hour searching through dusty stacks of records. But quantity doesn't always mean quality. That's what Rob's shop has- quality. Including a wide range of genres, and some obscure and unexpected albums.


August 12 is National Vinyl Record Day: Q & A with a record store owner


Tables turned toward a dream job

Rob's selection feels like a true collection, and there's a reason for that. Rob's journey to becoming a record shop owner began with a love for the music. That inspired a career change that led him to his dream job.


"Having been a Child and Youth Counselor for 30 years, this is now therapy for my own good mental health. I have been a collector for 50 years and always loved the feel of the 'hunt' whether it was a new record out or finding some rare gem," said Rob. "My group of friends and I were all into similar and different styles of music and would get together whenever we could. This began the thrill of sharing music and finding bands and artists that I didn't know. So when I retired from mental health work I wanted to revisit those experiences as well as share the adventures of looking and finding LPs with others. It is very much a fun and entertaining job!"


August 12 is National Vinyl Record Day: Q & A with a record store owner
Vinyl Dayz photo provided by Rob Boell

What are the greatest hits of a record shop owner?

Finding rare gems is a fun challenge for any record store owner. There are always going to be customer requests that are hard to find. But what about a record store owner like Rob? What tops his personal list of albums he is searching for?


"There are always going to be LPs that I want. Right now I would like to find the 2nd and 3rd Elf albums. They were a band Ronnie James Dio was in during the '70s," said Rob. "I remember seeing them in a store on Yonge Street around 1980 and passed on them. What a mistake, at that time they were $20 and now they are worth as high as $120. So the 'hunt' continues and someday, someday." 

August 12 is National Vinyl Record Day: Q & A with a record store owner
Vinyl Dayz photo provided by Rob Boell

Another obvious question I had for Rob is one I assumed he couldn't answer before I even asked it. What are his top three albums? It's a question I don't think I could answer, but if he had a top three I needed to know.


"I can't do it! Even if you asked me for a top 10 list I couldn't do it," he said. "A top 100 might be possible but I would take a while to do it and would have constant debates with myself over what I would add and take out."


August 12 is National Vinyl Record Day: Q & A with a record store owner


That's a fair answer to a loaded question. One of the things I enjoy most about visiting Rob's shop is listening to whatever album he decided to spin that day, learning about bands I've never heard of before, and interesting musical facts and antidotes. That, combined with the superior sound and nostalgia of vinyl, is something you will never get from the iTunes store.  


If you live in Pembroke or are just passing through, visiting Vinyl Dayz should be on your list of things to do. It's located at 105 Pembroke Street West at the back of Bob's Music Plus, next to the music school classrooms. You can buy, sell, and trade vinyl records. Do me a favour when you're there- say hi to Rob for me!


August 12 is National Vinyl Record Day: Q & A with a record store owner
Some of my finds at Viny Dayz


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August 12 is National Vinyl Record Day: Q & A with a record store owner

August 12 is National Vinyl Record Day: Q & A with a record store owner


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