At Tampa's Vinyl Fever, everything must go
On Wednesday, your humble Soundcheck editor spent a day bouncing around Tampa Bay's biggest and best record shops. The occasion: The swift, shocking demise of Vinyl Fever, one of America's best record stores, which may close its doors as early as Sunday.
At each stop, we found businesses that were, for the most part, doing fairly well. Daddy Kool Records and Bananas Music have both recently expanded. Disc Exchange in St. Petersburg was about to expand before a deal to buy the place next door fell through. And at no point did places like Sound Exchange, Mojo Books and Music and Asylum Sights and Sounds seem totally dead.
So why is it, again, that Vinyl Fever has to close?
Quite simply: Their lease is ending, said owner Lee Wolfson, and “it’s not profitable enough to pay for another move. I’m not interested in downsizing.”
That means everything must go. Shelves. Signs. Records. Commemorative T-shirts. Old copies of Spin and Magnet from the mid-'90s (was Garbage really that huge?). Those CD dividers you see above, which are going for 25 cents a pop. An invoice from Gene Simmons. Posters signed and made out to Vinyl Fever by the likes of Charlie Louvin (R.I.P.), Daniel Lanois, MXPX, Dan Bern, Justin Townes Earle and Stereophonics. Even that notorious Strat autographed by the Rolling Stones. (Wolfson said he had one serious offer on it, but wouldn’t name the price.)
That’s good news to a guy like Jade Dellinger of Tampa. Dellinger, a loyal customer who co-authored the Devo biography We Are Devo!, has for 15 years been begging Wolfson to sell him a rare original poster from a 1982 Devo concert, at left.
On Wednesday, Wolfson let him have it for free. “So everything’s not for sale,” he said. “Some things are beyond that."
"Some things," Dellinger said, "are priceless."
After the jump, check out what Vinyl Fever looks like in its dying hour -- and find out souvenirs what we bought for ourselves.
The back of the store, where it was once possible to while away hours looking through used CDs and vinyl records, now looks like this:
What's left? An array of equipment in the front of the room. Almost anything is available for the taking (but don't bother making an offer on the autographed David Bowie litho or Iggy Pop poster behind the counter. Unless you're extremely wealthy, and super-duper serious.
A lot of things caught our eye. We contemplated buying a plastic rack designed to hold copies of 33-1/3, just because we thought it would be a cool place to store all the junk on our desk. We considered buying one of those multiple-CD listening stations for $30, but couldn't decide what what we'd do with it. And though we desperately wanted to (for ironic purposes, we swear), we couldn't bring ourselves to make an offer on a plaque issued to Vinyl Fever commemorating 1 million copies sold of Creed's My Own Prison, which you can kind of see here:
How insane would that look on the wall of our cubicle?
In the end, we purchased one custom artist-autographed poster ($5) as a gift, plus a fantastic poster for Tampa Bay's upcoming Lebowski Fest in February ($4.99). We may buy more at Saturday's going-away party.
But without question, our favorite purchase of the day was this, for $6.99:
Let it never be said that tbt* doesn't own a Weekly Planet/Creative Loafing Best of the Bay award. Even if we had to pay for it.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photos (except for the last one): Luis Santana, tbt*.