At Redscroll Records, Vinyl Escapes Extinction

Nelani Mejias | May 15th, 2019

At Redscroll Records, Vinyl Escapes Extinction

Music  |  Arts & Culture  |  Youth Arts Journalism Initiative  |  Wallingford


Redscroll Records, open on a recent sunny Saturday. This Sunday, they will host the second annual record festival at Counter Weight Brewing in Hamden. Facebook Photos. 

The first thing that jumps out is the collection of records, CDs and even cassette tapes. They fill bins and boxes, some stacked on top of each other in tidy rows. When it seems like there’s no longer room, the store finds space for them crammed into nooks and crannies that didn’t seem to exist before.

That’s the story at Redscroll Records, now in its 12th year in business on Wallingford's Colony Road. This Sunday, the store will be taking its love of vinyl and outsider culture to Counter Weight Brewing in Hamden for its second annual record festival, a daylong celebration of music and food from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vendors include George Audette, Bad Kitty, Get Awesome Records, Painkiller Records and Vinyl Destination among several others. More information is available here.

“We are very excited and optimistic about all the events we have coming up!” wrote owner Rick Sinkiewicz by email last week.

Redscroll has been riding a a love of vinyl that has surged in the digital age. In 2007, Sinkiewicz first opened the store with his friend and colleague Josh Carlson. A few years before, the two had rolled out a label under the same name, focusing on small releases from friends. That Redscroll became a distributor, hitting live music events with an emphasis on punk music.

But by 2006, the pace of the business was too much to handle. The two decided to open a store, dedicated largely to “underground music and culture.” In addition to uncommon titles, the store sells funky t-shirts and ephemera. They run a music podcast out of the shop, available every month with new music news and artist interviews.

A selection from last week's new music Friday. Facebook Photo. 

They’ve found that it’s a surprisingly good moment to have a record store. Since 2016, vinyl sales have increased by about 12 percent, according to a recent music consumption report from BuzzAngle. Inside Redscroll, that enthusiasm is palpable on an almost-daily basis. There’s a front door covered in so many stickers it could be an art piece all on its own, and walls plastered with posters from different bands and concerts. A steady stream of music plays on the stereo.

Their bins—and there are hundreds and hundreds—have well-known titles right alongside hard-to-find ones. Visitors can score Abbey Road by the Beatles or Rocket to Russia by the Ramones. But they often come for more unique and quirky finds, such as Dying of Sunsets by Snake Oil Sounds.

In its 12 years of business, Redscroll has continued to grow. When Sinkiewicz and Carlson started the store, their collection was modest: they started with about 6,000 titles. In recent years, that number has exploded with both old titles and new ones that the store acquires, as bands return to vinyl pressing for their releases at a higher rate.

Every Tuesday the store get a new batch of used vinyl—new to whomever the next owner will be. Customers from all different ages swoop in to see what the new titles are, and what treasures they may not yet have unearthed. Fridays, the store also unveils new music.

“Sometimes it’s the parents dragging their kids along and sometimes it’s the kids dragging their parents,” Sinkiewicz said. He added that customers primarily collect vinyl as a hobby.

On a recent afternoon, several customers milled around the store, weaving through the aisles and thumbing through the bins of vinyl before making their picks. 17-year-old Matt Levin said he first got into vinyl because he thought it was the “traditional” way to listen to music. Others like Arianna Kerrigan, 16, listen to vinyl as a way to connect with family.

“I always feel like vinyl provides another way to connect with the past and help you feel the nostalgia that your older relatives do,” she said. “When some of my older aunts throw on a Dean Martin or Louis Prima record just to have a moment where they feel young again is beautiful to watch.”

Some customers said they also buy vinyl online; others go to the few records stores that are left in the state. 17-year-old Miles Wazni said he goes to Elm City Sounds to pick up classical music. Kayla Young, also 17, goes to Redscroll Records. She said that going to an actual record store provides “an experience” over shopping online.

Redscroll has a certain rhythm that can change from hour to hour and day to day. Some moments, customers have the whole store to themselves. Then suddenly there will be people standing back to back, and squeezing through aisles. It’s that pace that has kept the business going for over a decade.

“We are so thankful to everyone who's supported us over the years to promote our growth,” Sinkiewicz said. “And we look forward to the future and expanding in as many ways as we feasibly can."

This piece comes to the Arts Paper through the second annual Youth Arts Journalism Initiative (YAJI), a program of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven and the New Haven Free Public Library. Over eight weeks this spring, ten New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) students will be working with Arts Paper Editor Lucy Gellman and YAJI Program Assistant Melanie Espinal to produce four articles, for each of which they are compensated. Read more about the program here or by checking out the "YAJI" tag.