The Washington Citypaper’s Ally Schweitzer broke some unbelievable news yesterday: Georgetown will soon get a new record shop. No, not a CD store. A record shop. As in vinyl.
Well, it’s actually a little more than a record store. Hill & Dale—no relation to the upscale Lower East Side gastropub nor Hillandale, Md.—will specialize in new vinyl records, photography, and posters. The shop, currently under construction, is located in the 1,200 square foot space formerly occupied by Parish Gallery. Norton, a 44-year-old who lives near Politics & Prose, plans to host a grand opening during the first week of February.
(Hill and Dale is probably a reference to the grooves on a vinyl record.)
If you think this is a crazy idea, you’re right. It is. But it’s not completely insane. People still buy vinyl records. In fact last year vinyl records had one of the best years it’s had in decades, posting a 38% jump.
Technologically, vinyl was surpassed a long, long time ago, first by tapes, then by CDs. Despite claims by audiophiles that the sound was superior, the iron law of convenience-over-sound-fidelity meant it was relegated to a niche market starting in the 90s. But something seems to have shifted in recent years. Certainly the retro-hipster aspect of vinyl helped it along. But the appeal is growing beyond the types of people who probably had a college radio show.
The theory is that now that the bulk of music sales have gone digital, when someone desires to physically posses a record they prefer the beauty of a 12″ record–with its giant artwork and sexy black record–over the chintz of a CD. If you really want to own a record: do you want in on the same medium that tried to get you to buy AOL over and over again, or do you want it the way the White Album was first delivered?
Vinyl record’s aren’t convenient. But neither is home cooking. And there’s just something elevating about both. Sure you could just turn on your iPod and order take out, but if you want to have a more physical connection with the experience, perhaps the more convenient way is not the best.
All that said, GM hasn’t a bought a vinyl record since the 90s (and, yes, he was one of those types of people with a college radio show) and he just doesn’t have room in his house or budget for a vinyl habit. But he wishes the store well, and hopes it succeeds.