A pensive grin forms on Alex Stillman’s face as she peruses a bin of used records at Vintage Vinyl. She can be seen determinedly biting her lower lip as she makes her way through thousands of records. Stillman has been collecting vinyl for nearly ten years, an anomaly for most 22-year-olds even amidst the recent record-collecting boom.
Records for a reason
“I started to buy records because the music I wanted to listen to wasn’t available in any other medium,” Stillman said, “And I continued to buy them for the superior sound quality, plus they used to be really cheap.”
A native of Minneapolis, Minn., Stillman’s quench for records was easily quelled given the city’s many record stores that can be both astute and genre-specific. While visiting friends in Fargo, she takes the opportunity to cover new territory.
“Different towns offer a different variety,” Stillman said. “It’s fun to go through the bins at places you’ve never been to.”
Stop number one
Phat Kat Antiques and Vintage Vinyl looks nothing more than a quaint, steel-sided warehouse from the outside. A few seemingly vintage items near the building’s entrance begin to hint that something unconventional lies through the door. The store within serves as a pseudo museum of items running the gamut of pop culture and war memorabilia and everything in between.
Stillman hurriedly works her way through the “Punk/Alternative” section before owner Shannon Grindberg informs her that the “New Arrivals” section contains many more punk gems that he has not had time to sort yet.
Within an hour Stillman had narrowed her gaze to three LPs: An original pressing of the self-titled debut by 80s British alt rockers The Smiths and original pressings of “Suck and Bloat” and “Pure Swank” by longtime Tampa, Flo., punks Pink Lincolns.
Because each release was near the $30 mark, she opted to go to a friend’s house to check the price estimations online before making the purchase.
“I found out the records were almost double the price,” Stillman said. “I went back to the store to try to bargain but didn’t get that far because it was the store’s policy to not accept out-of-state checks.”
Stop number two
A bit dejected, Stillman decided that Orange Records would be her next stop. Orange, opened in July 2007 by entrepreneur Matt Oland, caters to a younger generation with thousands of new records and CDs, while still carrying classic reissues and used selections. Orange also includes a considerable section focusing on local artists.
“I was more comfortable in Orange,” Stillman said. “I like their used section and I carried a conversation with the owner the whole time I was there.”
Stillman spent a combined $21 on two LPs at Orange. A repressing of paramount hardcore band Minor Threat’s “Complete Discography” LP on green vinyl, and a reissue of 60s garage purveyors The Sonics “Here Are the Sonics.”
Check out the stores yourself:
641 1st Ave. N Fargo
Phat Kat Antiques & Vintage Vinyl
1501 1st Ave Fargo, ND 58103