TACOMA, Wash. — We're first dropping the needle at Hi Voltage Records where manager Adam Davis-Stockman says he's seeing a whole new generation flipping through the vinyl stacks.
“Once you start your collection it's probably not going to stop,” Davis-Stockman says.
With 40,000 new and used vinyl album intermingled in a brightly lit shop, Hi Voltage will remind you of the record stores of your youth, taking you back to a time when picking up a physical record might be the first step to unlocking musical magic.
“You look at the cover and you go ‘Oh wow! This might be cool’” Stockman-Davis says.
From Hi Voltage it's a three-block walk to our next shop. House of Records has 120-thousand vinyl records for sale, not including the colored discs hanging from the ceiling.
“So this may be the most dangerous story I've ever done,” realizes reporter Saint Bryan, “and I once swam in open water with sharks. That's because when I walk into a place like this, I want it all.”
“I have wide variety of clientele that may just buy classical or may just buy polka,” says owner Pete Vanrosendael. “I have a little bit of everything in here, but after all music is a smorgasbord.”
You could easily spend hours searching for gems in crowded shelves, like that long sought-after copy of 10cc’s Sheet Music.
Vanrosendael also sells audio equipment if you need something to play those records on.
“We guarantee every record to play,” he says. “If it doesn't play to your satisfaction, bring it right back. No questions asked.”
“I carry and sell the best of the best,” he says. “Anything that is dubious to me goes back out the door. don't buy it and I don't sell it.”
Rice has a surprising number of albums from the 1980s that are still factory sealed with hype stickers. But he says even if the vinyl in the discount racks sells.
"They're going to have surface noise maybe a pop, a click or even a skip," he says. "But my customers want it."
Our final stop is to visit the new kid on the Ave: Janku Land which is six blocks away but worth every step. Taiga Dinger is hoping to draw University of Puget Sound students to his hip collection. He says if you think vinyl is just a fad, you haven't been paying attention. 2020 was the first year vinyl outsold CDs since the early 1990s.
"Records outlasted 8-Tracks, cassettes even CD's," he says. "It's gonna keep on outlasting everything. Records are timeless and there's always gonna be crazy people out there and vinyl is all they want."
And those "crazy people" can find a lot of what they are looking for on Tacoma's 6th Ave.
- Hi Voltage Records 2714 6th Ave, Tacoma WA 98406
- House of Records 608 N Prospect Street, Tacoma WA 98406
- Drastic Plastic 3006 6th Ave, Tacoma WA 98406
- Janku Land 3521 6th Ave, Tacoma WA 98406