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As The Table Turns: New Hobbyists Boost Sales for Old Town Record Shop

Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Annie Lennox… It’s been sounding a lot like Christmas inside Crooked Beat Records for the last month. Even though the record shop missed a few beats when it closed in April and May, sales have increased due to a new generation of hobbyists.

The hobbyists have turned sales back on the right track, according to Crooked Beats’ Paloma Alcala.

“Many people are looking for hobbies that they can do by themselves that they don’t need to do in a group,” Alcala told ALXnow. “Lots of people have taken up record collecting.”

The shop moved to 802 N. Fairfax Street from D.C. four years ago, and features thousands of records from nearly every genre. Due to COVID-19, the shop is currently letting in five customers at a time.

“We’ve got the classics,” Alcala said. “All kinds of things. We’ve got Canadian Christmas music, we’ve got compilations that span all kinds of genres. You want some Rockabilly Christmas music? We got that. Christmas R&B? Punk rock Christmas music? We have that.”

Most records sell for less than $50. Some of the higher priced items include a 13-disc expanded edition of Prince’s Sign O’ The Times ($289) and early pressings of 50-year-old albums by Jimi Hendrix and The Doors that are still sealed ($200 apiece).

The shop also sells Audio Technica 120 turntables ($289), and only buys used record collections from the public in good condition.

What’s the appeal of records? Alcala said she is frequently asked that question at the shop.

“In an era of streaming music, you can pretty much listen to anything that’s been put up on the internet, whenever and wherever you want,” she said. “There’s something really wonderful about that, too. But there’s something more satisfying and more active and purposeful about taking a record out of its sleeve, putting it on a player and dropping the needle. It puts you in a different mindset, and you’re able to enjoy the music on a much more personal level, and building a collection helps you curate the music that means the most to you.”

Crooked Beat Records is open Monday from 1 to 5:30 p.m.; Wednesday from noon to 5:30 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 6:30 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 5:30 p.m. The shop is closed every Tuesday.

Photo via Crooked Beat Records/Facebook

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