When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, most businesses were forced to shut down to help slow the spread. While record stores were among those that were forced to shut down, many have surprisingly seen a steady increase in sales and business after a slow reopening.
“Sales have definitely increased. It was kind of sketchy right when the pandemic started, but once people realized they’d be spending a lot of time at home, many of them really got into listening to records” said Dave James, of Factory Records in Costa Mesa.
Most record stores shifted to an online shopping experience at the start of the pandemic, and have stuck with it after a sharp increase in sales, meeting the demands of a growing trend and hobby of collecting and listening to vinyl records. “We’ve pivoted to tons of online sales,” James said. “That’s what saved us early on in the pandemic when we were closed, and we’re sticking with it.”
With new music being released every week, record stores are trying to keep up with the demand of vinyl copies rather than digital. “Covid has definitely impacted the plants and distributors in a way where a lot of new records are hard to restock right now. New releases are months behind their digital releases,” says Alex Forsythe, ownerForsythe, owner of Analog Record Shop in Tustin.
James also states that “some [records] are getting hard to get, or we might not get them right on time, due to the popularity of vinyl right now. I don’t think the record pressing world was ready for how popular vinyl was gonna become during the pandemic.”
Slowly record stores are starting to sell and having people visit their shops with careful Centers for Disease Control and prevention [CDC] guidelines, “We followed all the safety protocols… by the time Record Store Day arrived in fall, folks were crawling up the walls and were stoked to come see us,” said James.
Record stores across Orange County have been spared in that they are still running strong, if not better than before. “We haven’t been as unfortunate as many other industries,” acknowledged James.