The D.C. Record Fair enjoyed a packed house at Penn Social
The pop-up vinyl flea market did not disappoint
In 2004, CNN published an article predicting that CDs ‘would soon go the way of vinyl,’ but little did they know, vinyl records would make a comeback. The D.C. Record Fair, held Jan. 31 exhibited this resurgence.
Data from Nielsen Soundscan reveals that record sales have increased 52% in the last year, and even more surprisingly, digital sales have decreased.
For some 'audiophiles,' music lovers addicted to the sound, vinyl represents the purest form of recorded music. In today’s world of music and movie streaming, physical forms of media such as books and DVDs have suffered from low sales, but recent statistics show that “old-school” formats, such as vinyl, are starting to surge again in sales. This fresh demand for seemingly ‘retro’ goods brought the D.C Record Fair into existence.
On the morning of Jan. 31, District residents and guests wrapped a line around the block of E & 9th streets NW where local bar Penn Social hosted the D.C. Record Fair. The fair, sponsored by The Vinyl District, Som Records and DC Soul Recordings, is a bi-annual event that has kept wax enthusiasts coming back since 2008.
For only two dollars a ticket, attendees were granted access to hundreds of bins of new, used and rare presses of albums spanning genres and decades. Some dealers acted fastidious, carefully sorting albums by artist name and properly sleeving each record with care. Others dropped dusty crates on a table with the word “rock” taped to the front with the expectation that treasure hunters would find what they wanted.
Sometimes, these hunters did. A few years ago, my fingers were gray with dust after thumbing my way through the aisles. I stumbled upon a record I had been searching for for so long that I had completely given up. I slowly pulled the record from its spot and looked around. Am I on TV? Did someone else see this? Will they snatch it out of my hand? No, it was mine,The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack! A fishnet clad Frankenfurter printed directly on the LP was staring back at me. For an affordable price I took him home and have never looked back!
One might ask, “Why not just buy it online?” It is the thrill of the hunt that brings both collectors and vendors out of bed on Sunday morning.
Greg Wells, of Richmond, Virginia held down a sunny corner for his sixth DC Record festival as a vendor.
“A lot of people will bring me whole collections,” he said of how he gets his inventory, “I do the same thing everybody else does... flea markets, estate sales, stuff like that. I look at this as an ever rotating library.”
Downstairs, one avid collector clutched her recent purchases while a friend continued to browse. Her small stack ranged from Boy George to Genesis to the Beatles. There was something for everyone at this year’s DC Record Festival, and there will be more for the next round later this year.