Travis Fredericks is Living the Dream at Dark Alley Collectables
Travis Fredericks is the owner of independent music store Dark Alley Collectables in Port Macquarie. He says the shop is thriving and puts it all down to the resurgence of vinyl records. “Initially I think it started as a trend, but every year it grows.,” he said. “It’s an old industry that continues to experience growth. With much support from our local community, we are finding new audiences and expanding our methods of reaching people.”
It’s not just the volume of sales that is growing but the buyer demographic as well. “At Dark Alley Collectables we see older men looking to relieve their youth and remember all those great live bands they saw in the 80’s and 90’s. They make up a substantial proportion of sales. On a daily basis I’m hearing how they lost their collection through a divorce, or converted to CD’s in the 90’s, and now they’re lost in nostalgia, cashed up and can afford to replace their lost collections.”
The shop also appeals to youth and Dark Alley Collectables has become a hub for youth youngsters that don’t fit into the surfing culture so abundant in Port Macquarie. Travis and partner Lisa actively encourage youth into the space and take the time to educate them about music both past and present.
“The absolute best thing is seeing a parent and child browsing the titles together and heading home to listen to their new purchases,” said Travis with a smile. “We find the kids of today are listening to music from the 80’s and 90’s and through this are able to form a solid connection with their parents through music. The kids are wearing their old Kiss shirts and buying up Nirvana. It’s really cool.”
There is a flip side to the booming platform, as new record margins become tighter and sourcing second-hand records isn’t as easy as it used to be. “People often donated their record collections to charity shops, threw them in the bin or sent them to the tip. I always feel so sad and regretful when I hear of a whole trailer load going to the tip.
“In the beginning, Baby Boomers were downsizing and selling us their record collections. Now they are giving them to their children. It’s great for us that they are passing down this culture to them, as we will continue to see them. However we are searching harder than ever to curate our collection.”
In recent times, wholesale prices have increased on new records, which are mainly re-issues of older albums, pushing the retail price up and up. “Since COVID, the online price of records has skyrocketed,” explained Travis. “Before COVID, a lot of the first pressings in our shop were selling for a quarter of what is now being asked online. It’s the first pressings that are now highly sought after, with AC/DC going for up to $900 for their Blue Roo pressings.
“Secondhand records seem to appeal more with the younger crowd, a crucial demographic for securing repeat business. So we thought we would add festival sunglasses, really funky earrings and leather chokers to cater to the tourist and festival crowds that come here annually during summer.”
The uniqueness of vinyl, the “warmer” sound and aesthetic, the loss of listening to a whole album as a piece of art, holding the cover, reading the inserts, the love of the artwork and vinyl sleeve. People are buying not just music, but an artefact. Travis says “I’ve never bought a CD based on the cover, but many records have been bought based on the cover with the hope that the music on the inside was good too”.
Most bands are releasing on LP now and record fairs have become popular again. “Every year I think it’s on its last legs, but it just keeps on growing,” said Travis.
Vinyl albums continue their renaissance with a 32% revenue rise to $29.3 million from 1.4 million sales last year. It is expected that vinyl will outsell CDs this year.
Over 15 years ago, digital music turned the music industry on its head, however vinyl has now returned to the spotlight.
“When I decided to open this store, the aim was to have a nice lifestyle, play good music every day and have a good time. Now I’m not just living an audiophile’s dream, I own a solid business also.”
Thanks for your time Trav!
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