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Tallahassee's latest record store hopes to capitalize on vinyl revival

A long-haired man in blue jeans and a black t-shirt leans against a poster-covered wall surrounded by albums.
Tom Flanigan
WFSU Public Media
The proprietor amongst the platters. Real Cool Time Records' owner Matthew Sampson

What was old is new again. Vinyl records are making a comeback, as are small, independent record stores. The latest such emporium in Tallahassee opened for business the last weekend in March. The tiny establishment is located in a former jewelry and watch repair shop across from the Lake Ella CVS. The proprietor was busily greeting a steady stream of curious visitors during the Sunday grand opening.

"My name is Matthew Sampson. This is 'Real Cool Time Records,' he smiled by way of introduction.

Sampson knows a lot about music. He's been a DJ at Florida State's student radio station V-89. And he's long been a huge fan of old-fashioned vinyl record albums. To the point collecting and selling them has become a bit of an obsession.

"Estate sales, garage sales, I did the flea market for about a year-and-a-half and then started having appointments at my house. I turned the spare room at my house into a record store. And then I saved up enough money to rent out this establishment."

Largely considered an obsolete music medium just a few decades ago, vinyl records are now seeing a resurgence. An increasing amount of new music along with remastered versions of older classics are being released on vinyl. Sampson says there's just something intangible about having your tunes in a tangible form.

"Even with streaming being really popular, people want to have the art and hold it as a physical media. They want that. And it's also the collectible aspect of it."

Sampson's records are used, so his price points are low. Most records are under $10. And for those who want to try before they buy, he's offering a few different ways for customers to preview their selections.

"We've got the analog player and then we have the Bluetooth record player so that, if someone wants to try out a record, I can play one for the whole place to hear, but I can also put it so they can plug their headphones in and listen to it while they're shopping."

Although he doesn't yet have the same space, nor volume of inventory, Sampson would like someday to have his store regarded with the same reverence as a legendary Tallahassee record store from long ago. A place on West Pensacola Street called Vinyl Fever.

"Unfortunately, I moved here in 2013, so I just missed Vinyl Fever. But I've bought many a collection that still have those stickers on them."

And perhaps one day, stickers saying, "Real Cool Time Records" might be equally collectible.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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