The familiar phrase “What’s old is new again” is clearly on display at Radio Wasteland, a new vinyl record store that opened January 13th in Midland. Owned by the father/daughter team of Jim & Katie Gleason, the store is located at 718 George Street.
Gleason is a long-time vinyl LP collector; a passion he shares with Katie. As Jim describes the story, “I had an opportunity for change in my career. I’d gone pretty far in what I was doing and felt I needed a new challenge of some sort. Like a lot of collectors, it was always in the back of my mind to open a store one day and then the opportunity presented itself.”
The Gleasons started simple, learning the ropes of the used record market on discogs.com, buying and selling some more “collectible” pieces. When the elder Gleason came into the opportunity to acquire a large quantity of good quality used vinyl, the stage was set for a physical store, and the duo began to look for a location.
Vinyl LPs have been making a comeback over the last several years, with both a highly-developed collector’s market and the new twist of an explosion in demand for “audiophile” quality recordings for those who meld their vinyl vice with an appreciation of hi-fi audio equipment.
As Jim Gleason pointed out, one must be careful when dealing in used record albums. First is simply a matter of how well the platter has been cared for. A record must be clean, unmarred and free of damage. While some groove wear is normal and there are even listeners who savor the occasional “hiss” or “pop” as part of the character the vinyl recording brings, the days of taping a penny to your stylus and hoping that helped the skips and scratches are over.
The value of individual pieces can also vary greatly, as sometimes it is a specific pressing of a disc that holds significant market value, where the same recording pressed a few months later or for a record club garner regular used record prices, or less.
For those that experienced vinyl LPs the “first time around,” a store like Radio Wasteland is a trip down memory lane, as favorite album covers from the past peek out of the stacks. The store also has specialty sections, like “Made in Michigan, for recordings with an in-state tie, or the eponymous “Radio Wasteland” section, which includes recordings of classic radio fare.
The store also carries new releases and boxed sets, which are now part of the product offering for many new and classic artists.
All in all, Radio Wasteland is a nice addition to the Midland retail landscape and another destination for those music lovers who prefer their songs served up on a pitch-black platter.