Montreal

Montrealers are still getting Cheap Thrills at this downtown record shop 50 years later

While it might seem like the whole world has gone digital, there’s a tiny shop in the heart of downtown Montreal that has been keeping it old school for 50 years.

Owner Gary Worsley says there's a market for vinyl as records make a comeback among youth

Gary Worsley, the owner of Cheap Thrills, first visited the shop in 1985 and says not much has changed since. (Rowan Kennedy/CBCY)

While it might seem like the whole world has gone digital, there's a tiny shop in the heart of downtown Montreal that has been keeping it old school for 50 years.

"One thing that's really cool is when I discovered this store in 1985, it looked like it does now, said Gary Worsley, the owner of Cheap Thrills.

But the store opened more than a decade before Worsley discovered the often-crowded record store, almost hidden in an attic-like space on Metcalfe Street.

It opened in 1971 on Bishop Street, before moving to the Metcalfe location in 1984. Since then, not much has changed.

The store features an inventory of more than 10,000 titles of vinyl records.

"We have music from all genres; metal, punk, rap, experimental, jazz, blues, rock, soul, international and more," the shop's website touts.

Tucked upstairs in an old building on Metcalfe Street, Cheap Thrills offers thousands of records to choose from. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC)

And while it might sound like a business sure to fail in the age of music streaming and Bluetooth speakers, Worsley said vinyl still sells just fine.

He said it started coming back in style about 10 years ago.
    
"More younger people buying records than we've seen in a very long time," he said.

Over the last two years, vinyl sales have been exploding and the shop stays busy, he said, adding that phone and mail-in orders are through the roof. 

Jason Grimmer says he enjoy introducing young people to records. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC)

"Because people were working from home, it seemed like record sales were kind of booming in that regard," he said.

Jason Grimmer has been on staff for about 15 years, and he said it's been great to teach a new generation about records.

"A record store allows people to come and congregate and talk about music and records. And that spreads knowledge both to us and to them," he said.

Vinyl fans like Daniele Quattrocchi enjoy the unique sound records offer. 

"Like the little crackles on the record player and stuff. I like the texture and I like the physical aspect of owning the music," Quattrocchi said.

That's the kind of appreciation Worsley said he appreciates seeing.

"It's a good indication that the trend is real. That people have an interest and they are searching for records," he said.

After five decades of success, Worsley said there are no plans to change the formula or move, anytime soon.

With files from Rowan Kennedy

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