Vinyl Record Store Still in the Groove

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Photograph by Jeffrey Bosdet.

Back in 1984 when The Turntable opened on Store Street in Victoria, CDs were only two years old, cassettes were big and vinyl was still king. Three years later, owner Gary Anderson moved to Fan Tan Alley and began The Turntable’s rise to local iconic status.

Weathering three decades of industry changes hasn’t been easy. “The 90s were the toughest,” Anderson says, noting the mainstream shift to CDs, digital and now streaming.

“Very few people were buying vinyl.” Diversifying helped, with T-shirts, posters and American imports, as did appraising record collections for insurance companies and a new wave of DJs, snapping up his stock of R&B, funk and jazz.     

Celebrating its 331/3-year anniversary in September, Anderson credits much of The Turntable’s success to location. “Being in Fan Tan when the cruise ships come in — it’s like a few months of Christmas,” he says with a chuckle.      

With vinyl sales rocking a 25-year high in 2016 (still only five per cent of the overall albums market), newcomers like Vinyl Envy and Supreme Echo are edging into territory held by longtime players (Ditch, Lyle’s Place); even London Drugs stocks wax now. But much like classic rock, Anderson has proven his mettle as a bricks-and-mortar vinyl retailer with a 20,000-title inventory worth about $113,000 and climbing, thanks to increased demand for a dwindling supply from a new generation of enthusiasts.

“I owe Victoria a huge thanks for keeping me going,” he says. “A lot of really good people just didn’t want to give up their turntables.”