Vinyl revival 'saved the mom and pop shops'

Whether you shop in stores or online, you've likely noticed this trend: Vinyl is making a comeback like never before, and it's not losing steam.

'People want a music collection'

VInyl is mainstream again for collectors new and old, says Back Alley Music in Charlottetown. Here, Ryan Kirkpatrick shows off some albums. (Submitted by Back Alley Music)

Whether you shop in stores or online, you've likely noticed this trend: Vinyl is making a comeback like never before, and it's not losing steam.

At a yard sale last weekend, everyone from children to seniors was excited to see I had boxes of old vinyl for sale. To my surprise, by the end of the weekend, every last album from The Irish Rovers to Zamfir playing the pan flute was sold.

"It's definitely come back and saved the mom and pop shops that have been doing it for years when it was more on the fringes," said Pat Deighan, who with his wife Meghann owns Back Alley Music in Charlottetown — one of those "mom and pop" shops that's been around for more than 20 years.

Vinyl will be the defining, de facto piece of music that will be around forever.— Pat Deighan, Back Alley Music

"Especially this year we are selling tons of vinyl, and we're getting new collectors," he enthused. "Vinyl is collected by 15-year-olds and 70-year-olds. People want a music collection."

Back Alley has expanded its vinyl inventory over the past year, both new and used, he said. Competition for collectible vinyl is fiercer than ever, Deighan noted, and he's always seeking people who want to sell.

More music companies are reissuing everything across the board from Patsy Cline to the Beatles and Stones, he said, and charging premium prices.

"The cost is definitely a little bloated for some," he said, noting the new Jack White acoustic album is $48, but most vinyl averages $30 to $32.

"We're not getting rich off it," Deighan said, noting the cost to produce vinyl is more than CDs or cassettes. 

Competition increases too

With the resurgence has come increased competition both locally from retailers of all kinds and from online. From Walmart to Best Buy and Urban Outfitters, turntables, amps and speakers that were crowding dumpsters a decade ago are now hot commodities. 

'People like buying physical manifestations of the music,' notes Pete Forbes, who sold plenty of vinyl at his store in Murray River this summer. (Records on Main/Facebook)

Back Alley now does a steady business buying and selling refurbished sound systems. 

People just really, really dig it.— Mike Ross, Hop Yard restaurant

Pete Forbes also ran a small record store in Murray River this summer called Records on Main. 

The 40-year-old guitar teacher said he believes there are cycles in the popularity of vinyl that peak every six or seven years. 

"The digital revolution fell short in a few ways, but I think people like buying physical manifestations of the music," he said. "The artwork is nice, and the weight of it is nice — it feels like you are actually buying something." 

Many artists who issue their albums on vinyl now will include a digital download or code, Forbes pointed out, so people can listen to the music both ways — at home on a turntable or on the go.

And a side of vinyl, bartender

HopYard hopped on the trend when the restaurant opened this spring in Charlottetown.

'It's got the old-school feel to it,' says Hop Yard co-owner Brett Hogan of vinyl records available to play at the restaurant. (Hop Yard/Facebook)

It borrowed 600 records from Back Alley Music, so diners can pick out a favourite and ask the bartender to spin it for them. The vinyl is also available "to go" — since it's all for sale. 

"It's worked out great for both of us," said HopYard co-owner Brett Hogan, noting some customers even bring in their own records to be played while they dine.

"It's got the old-school feel to it."

"People just really, really dig it," shares HopYard co-owner Mike Ross.

"I'm sure it will grow until the next big thing comes along and then die, but I don't think it will ever disappear," Ross added. 

'Vinyl was dead'

Vinyl has been Pat Deighan's passion for years — the 42-year-old musician been collecting since he was 14, and has a collecting of about 2,000 albums, listing a Sam Cook Night Beat original album as his favourite. 

'People want a music collection,' says Back Alley Music owner Pat Deighan, showing off some of the store's new and reissued vinyl. (Submitted by Back Alley Music)

"For a while there vinyl was dead. CDs are definitely declining," Deighan said, espousing his belief that, "Vinyl will be the defining, de facto piece of music that will be around forever."

"Vinyl is a beautiful thing. It's a piece of art," he said, adding its sound is rich and authentic.


Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara has worked with CBC News in P.E.I. since 1988, starting with television and radio before moving to the digital news team. She grew up on the Island and has a journalism degree from the University of King's College in Halifax. Reach her by email at