EAST LONGMEADOW — Ask someone in their 40s or older what buying music was like when they were teenagers, and they will likely describe going to a record store to comb through bins of vinyl records, CDs or cassette tapes. The advent of MP3s and streaming music services made this experience far from the norm in today’s market, but in the past decade, vinyl has made a comeback, and with it, record stores.

Record stores are doing so well, in fact, that Ludlow-based Raspberries Records is expanding to a second location at 48 Shaker Rd., East Longmeadow.

“The vinyl industry has had a huge resurgence,” said Raspberries Records owner Rob Roccanti. Roccanti sells new and vintage vinyl, along with CDs, tapes, 8-tracks and DVDs. “We have the largest collection of 45s in the area. People come in with lists” of titles they are looking for on 45 rpm records, he added.
“I think vinyl is cool. I think people kind of got tired of listening to music streaming from their phones. With vinyl, there’s art,” he said holding a record in his hands and looking at the artwork on the front and back of the album sleeve. He slid the album back into the row and began flipping through the stack, demonstrating, “Here you can take a look. Browsing for vinyl is an experience.”

The store also sells vintage band shirts, pins, memorabilia — such as backstage passes — and turntables and stereo systems. Much of the equipment he sells is to people whose tweens or teens are asking for it.

“I’ll say, ‘Start off with something simple, like this,’” Roccanti said, picking up a small record player. “‘See if it’s a phase, and if not, we can upgrade it.’”

Considering at the renaissance of vinyl records, Roccanti said, “There’s a lot of nostalgia from the baby boom generation. For younger generations, I think there’s a novelty to it.” He said there is a culture around vinyl and record stores develop a following, with many repeat customers. When people are traveling, they will often Google local record stores, to add to the albums available to them, locally, he explained.

The business does some special orders, but Roccanti said he sources most of the music he sells from people selling their collections and estate sales. The majority of albums available at Raspberries Records are used titles, but there is also a steady stream of new music being pressed onto vinyl that is sold there.

For example, Roccanti explained that Raspberries Records is gearing up for Record Store Day on Saturday, April 20. It is an industry event that encourages the public to buy from local record stores and it includes newly released vinyl albums exclusive to the event. A couple of years ago, Roccanti said there was a Taylor Swift record that dropped on Record Store Day and people lined up down the street and camped out for it. He said he does not think any of the albums being released on record this year will drive such a reaction, but still expects there to be a sizable crowd.

While the East Longmeadow location will likely not yet be open, the Ludlow store will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with live music by local artists, free gifts, food and drink.

The new store will be open this month. “We’re aiming for April 23,” Roccanti said. “The location is great. Shaker Road’s a great spot.” He added that he hopes being in the storefront next to Koffee Time will allow the two businesses to feed customers to each other.

The East Longmeadow location is a larger space and Roccanti said he will be able to feature live music there more often than he can in Ludlow.

Raspberries Records sells products online at tinyurl.com/mvpubast. The Ludlow location is at 207 Winsor St., across from Blue Water Sushi and can be reached at 413-610-0950. More information about the store can be found at raspberriesrecords.com.

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