CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston's East End is set to get a taste of rock nostalgia when Sullivan's Records opens later this month.
Owners Sam Lowe, 33, and his girlfriend, Alycia Adams, 31, have spent the last few weeks remodeling the storefront at 1588a Washington St. E.
For Lowe, who worked in a Huntington music store for several years, running a music store of his own is a dream come true.
"I love going to work," Lowe said. "There's nothing like being able to talk all day with people about your passion."
He and Adams hope to make their store a hub for people who like good music packaged in its original form.
Sullivan's Records, as the name indicates, will actually sell records.
(For the MP3 generation, records are the black, circular, vinyl things your parents and grandparents grew up listening to in high fidelity back in the 1970s).
Lowe and Adams have spent months on Craigslist, eBay and traveling to several shops around the region to accumulate a collection of more than 6,000 vinyl albums.
"We went all over West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky just buying stuff we thought people wanted," Adams said.
Lowe said he could only buy about 1,000 albums at a time on a road trip, otherwise his truck would become a moving version of the War song "Low Rider."
Their collection has all the favorites — from The Beatles, The Doors, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix — and also has rarities and bootlegs from artists like Frank Zappa.
He will not only sell the albums, but he will also buy anyone's old records or trade them for other albums.
Lowe said he wants the store to satisfy both the casual listener and the well-versed collector.
Regardless of what you may have heard, vinyl records have not gone the way of the dinosaur. In fact, they're seeing somewhat of a resurgence.
According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, vinyl record sales last year were at their highest level since 1997.
Music sales tracker Nielsen SoundScan reported vinyl album sales rose 19 percent to 4.6 million records sold. Vinyl sales are growing even though total sales of albums — in digital, CD or other forms — are declining in the U.S.
Lowe said he thinks people are beginning to rediscover the art of the album — not just the music, but the cover art, liner notes and other details artists used to include when they sold a record.
He said kids today have grown up in a virtually all-digital music world, making their own CDs using tracks pulled from services like iTunes or formerly free Napster.
He said when some teenagers have walked by and looked at his stock, they've been amazed at what used to be included with a recording.
"I think there's this generation that didn't have anything in their hand, and when they get a vinyl, they just lose their mind," Lowe said.
Lowe said that while he'll have a lot of the mega-albums from the 1960s and 1970s, he plans to cover a lot of niche genres, including underground punk, heavy metal, hip hop, jazz and blues.
You'll note that even though the store is named Sullivan's, that word's not in either of the owners' names.