Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not All Record Stores Closing

We always seem to read about record shops going under, here's an uplifting story that shows us that there are still wonderful record stores staying open and thriving with the new found love of vinyl:

After 30 years, Luke's Record Exchange sees another resurgence

Luke Renchan holds a framed 'Butcher Cover' from 'The Beatles Yesterday and Today' album.

By ETHAN SHOREY, Valley Breeze Staff Writer

PAWTUCKET - They said he couldn't keep it up.

Every time the music industry chose a new way to get its product to the consumer - from 8-tracks to vinyl, cassettes to CDs - the doubters kept telling Luke Renchan it might be time to call it quits and close up shop.

Thirty years after first opening Luke's Record Exchange on Broadway, Renchan and his one-of-a-kind Rhode Island store are once again enjoying a resurgence in business as he takes advantage of the music industry's return to high quality vinyl records and the booming postmortem popularity of Michael Jackson.

"I'm doing more than surviving," says Renchan, on doing business in this new world of iPods and easy downloads.

Located at 393 Broadway, Luke's Record Exchange, where new and old customers alike can often be found spending hours at a time reconnecting with the albums of their past, is the largest - and oldest - music variety store that he knows of in New England, according to Renchan.

Vinyl in its 180 GRAM form is so popular right now, Renchan told The Breeze, that it is now outselling compact discs, once thought to be the mode for listening pleasure but now becoming another victim of changing trends.

The recent death of pop icon Jackson is having very much the same kind of impact on the record business as when former Beatles star John Lennon died, according to Renchan, with patrons seeking a reconnect with the music of their childhood.

Ask Renchan about any of the more than 1 million items in his store and he'll more than likely be able to tell exactly where it is on one of two packed floors. Collectible items like The Beatles "Butcher Cover," combined with a decline in today's economy, make now "a great time to buy," according to Renchan.

Renchan said he believes ups and downs will always be a part of the music industry. Just because one trend in listening is nearly rendered obsolete does not mean he'll pack it in, instead choosing to adjust to the changes.

"I'm a firm believer that if something happens that you don't like, we as people need to do something about it," said the man who works a second job as a successful disc jockey.

Renchan says he became discouraged last year and shut down his storefront business for a few months to focus on other priorities. He reopened largely at the urging of friends who said the industry was returning to high-quality vinyl, a decision he hasn't regretted since.

Pawtucket Mayor James Doyle has honored Renchan and his wife, Christine, with a sign from the city honoring Luke's Record Exchange for doing business in Pawtucket for the past 30 years.

"The current economic crisis has made it extremely difficult for many of our small businesses to survive, let alone celebrate 30 years of continual operation at the same location," said Doyle in a news release. "Luke's Record Exchange has been a staple of the business community along Broadway for decades, and I know that Mr. Renchan cares deeply about the neighborhood."

Doyle has even offered to rename the block where the Renchans do business in honor of Luke's Record Exchange, said Renchan, something he and his wife are considering.

The Renchans and a volunteer staff are currently in the process of reorganizing the entire store to adapt to the changing times yet again.

Luke's Record Exchange is open each day from noon to 5 p.m. The number to call to inquire about a specific item is 725-7156.

Thanks to the author ETHAN SHOREY and the publication for the exclusive rights to reprint this story.

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