There are hundreds of sights and sounds at the Record Show, the largest and longest-lasting vinyl record fair in Minnesota. One thing you won’t find there: pretentious personalities.
“Like most niche markets, you get a lot of really devoted — I don’t want to call them weirdos or anything, but you get characters,” said Tom Novak, 56, who runs the show.
The Record Show held its first fair of the year Saturday at the Minneapolis/Richfield American Legion. Since 1992, the bimonthly show has been a home for curious and devoted record buyers, and for vendors who want to share their music knowledge and make some cash while they’re at it.
In 2017, vinyl is expected to become a billion-dollar industry for the first time since the 1980s, according to Deloitte Consulting. Deloitte expects sales of around 40 million records this year, still only a fraction of the more than 1 billion sold in 1981.
The Record Show largely operates outside of those sales, focusing instead on both common and rare used vinyl. But Novak has noticed renewed interest in the physical format as more younger and diverse buyers visit the show to grow their budding collections.
“For younger kids, it’s the nostalgia of something they never had,” said Novak, wearing a green hoodie and holding a 7-inch record a friend had passed him.
“It makes me feel old,” he joked.
The show was founded by Rich Shelton and James “Hymie” Peterson, who also opened Hymie’s Vintage Records in Minneapolis. Novak became the primary partner once Peterson died and Shelton moved away.
There are other local record shows, such as the MSP Music Expo. But the Richfield show, at 6501 Portland Av. S., is the largest, with more than 500 people from across the Twin Cities stopping by to browse and buy, Novak said.
Vendors are mostly from Minnesota, though some travel from Des Moines or Milwaukee. Each has a romantic story of how their passion for vinyl came to be — and plenty of records to prove it.
Danny Sigelman, who recently co-wrote a book about the local concert photography of Daniel Corrigan, has attended the show for years but was selling for the first time Saturday. He fell in love with the format when he was 6 years old, captivated by record labels as they spun on the turntable.
“It’s kind of insane how many record stores are here,” Sigelman said as he sold a used Supertramp record for $2. “I always say the records have a life of their own.”
Drew Miller, who has sold records since 2002, said record collecting is a balancing act between scarcity and condition.
“In this room, you’ll find probably anything from $1 to well over $100,” he said.
Vendors divide their fare by genre — jazz, soul, metal, gospel, synth, concert bootlegs and more. Others focus on the format. Novak, who also sells at the show, said he specializes in local 7-inch rock records from the 1950s to the present.
The show is an opportunity for old friends to catch up and talk music. One vendor talked to a buyer about the Beatles’ touring years; another spoke about his collection of records by Sun Ra, an experimental jazz composer.
Miller admits there is “a dusty-white-guys-selling-dusty-old-records syndrome” when it comes to vinyl. Novak said that more women are coming to the show now, helping to scrub its boys club image.
Zoe Kulik, 23, was at the show at the suggestion of her geology professor at Macalester College. After an hour, she had added Cat Stevens, Louis Armstrong and the Beatles to her tote bag.
Like her friends, Kulik uses streaming services to listen to music. However, she said she enjoys the warm atmosphere of a room when a record is on.
“It’s so much more enjoyable to pay attention to what you’re listening to, instead of turning on a playlist and mindlessly listening to music,” Kulik said.
Novak, who never imagined vinyl would have this kind of comeback, doesn’t have any predictions on the format’s future.
“I’d still be doing it if it wasn’t popular,” he said.