Kelowna’s love of vinyl growing

Two downtown businessmen are putting a new spin on Kelowna's burgeoning vinyl romance.

Two downtown businessmen are putting a new spin on Kelowna’s burgeoning vinyl romance.

Peter Jeffery, the owner of Milkcrate Records, and Bernie Wilson, the owner of Bernard Avenue restaurant Fernando’s, have been dedicating one night each week to simply sharing music.

Their tools, since the weekly event started in September, have been nothing more than a turntable and a selection of records from the collections of local music fans. They’d sit around, eating some local nosh and playing their favourite tunes.

“We started with a  small but fanatical following, but it’s getting more popular,” said Jeffery. Enough so, that they’re considering bringing a DJ around for the once a week event—and not the kind that scratches records, Jeffery stressed. Just an old school DJ, who likes to spin records. Whether that happens or not, however, it’s all a throwback to the days before MP3s,  and Jeffery thinks it reflects a larger desire to slow down and reach back to simpler times.

“As things get more technical, the natural reaction is to go back to analog experience… and (records) are a sharing medium,” he explained.

“Opposed to somebody walking around with their headphones on, listening to an iPod; records come with  art-work, information about the band, and the warmth of sound.”

Growth in the weekly session for vinyl wonks may show some of that community need to roll back the clock, but more evidence can be found in Jeffery’s bottom line.

Milkcrate Records opened two years ago in March, and in that time when many big-box style music shops atrophied they’ve grown.

“Our sales were up 45 per cent at Christmas,” he said, noting that they don’t just sell old vinyl. They stock CDs, new records and an array of the preloved variety in just about every genre.

And their customers are as varied as the product carried.

“We get a lot of vinyl enthusiasts who never gave it up, and they’re just carrying on. But they’re just looking for first pressings,” he said. “But 70 per cent of our crowd is under 35-years-old,.”

Helping build that audience are indie bands.

Jeffrey’s children are musicians, and he used to take them to the Habitat, where they’d open for headliner bands.

“Inevitably, they would say, ‘hey, we have a new record out, we’ll sign it for you’,”  he said.

That was in the early 2000s, and the trend never really changed, creating a whole new generation of vinyl lovers.

“It’s pretty neat to see the enthusiasm of the fan,” he said.

To take some of your favourite vinyl for a spin, or to hear others share theirs, keep an eye out for events at Fernando’s. There was a January hiatus for the event, but Jeffrey said it’s starting up again soon.

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