WHEATON – At a time when most turn to iPods or Pandora accounts for their daily tunes, a new business is hoping to bring back some old-school cool.
Michael Paeth, owner of Mile Long Records, which opened Tuesday in downtown Wheaton, said after a lifetime of loving music, he found himself less compelled by it several years ago.
It no longer held the same warmth for him, he said. But after he got an old record player at a garage sale, he realized that he hadn't changed – the music had.
"I've always loved records, but like everybody, I started buying CDs when CDs came out," he said. "But I got this turntable out of the blue that needed a new belt, and when I started playing my old records again, I was kind of blown away by how different it sounded."
Paeth said he felt digitizing music takes a lot of the depth and humanity out of the recordings.
He began collecting records again, and even thought about opening a store several years ago, before deciding it would only appeal to "nostalgia geeks like me."
Now, he's hoping others will rediscover their love of vinyl – or find it for the first time, like his daughters did.
"I started amassing a pretty good collection of records and one day my daughter came out to the garage and kind of fell in love with it," he said. "As I was sharing my hobby with her, she kind of filled me in that people her age were buying records again."
He began researching the industry, realizing that while it was a niche market, it was steadily growing. The final push towards his new storefront was the opportunity to have his daughters, Abby and Allie, work with him in the shop.
Now he has more than 20,000 records in his store, filling the long-vacant space 350 W. Front St.
Paeth said he is looking to expand to cater to his customers. He also plans to duplicate CDs onto vinyl and to host live music at the shop.
He hopes that by offering a wide selection and a welcoming atmosphere, new and old listeners alike will come to explore the world of vinyl and maybe even buy a record player at his business.
"I used to travel for my work all the time, and so I went to record stores all over," he said. "And I always noticed there was always a counter really tall right up at the front, so they could look over everything ... everything was fairly narrow and claustrophobic."
Instead, Paeth's shop will be filled with album cover art, hand-built furniture and a record player spinning vinyl all day long.
So far, the response to his store has been overwhelmingly positive, he said. It will be one of the few locally-owned suburban record shops in the area – Downtown Wheaton Association Executive Director Paula Barrington said she believed the closest such business is in Oak Park.
"People of all ages are getting into collecting vinyl," she said. "It's definitely going to be a destination store."
For more information, visit www.milelongrecords.com.