VINYL LIVES: Inner Groove Records of Collingswood, NJ Stacks 90% Vintage

Everyone has a favorite record store. When you walk in you know who is behind the counter, you know which bin is going to have your favorite records, and you know when they stock the new records. Record stores have been a staple in the music industry for years and have had the most turbulent journey in the business. 

When vinyl started to be sold in some of the largest retailers in the world (Target, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Nobles, etc.) they were bought in bulk and sold for cheap, and independent record stores took a massive hit in revenue. Yet, they have survived that. When digital downloads engulfed the music industry and iTunes was everyone’s first choice, brick-and-mortar stores never gave up. All their dedication and loyalty to the vinyl industry are now paying off in a big way.

For the past decade, the sales of physical music have been on a steady rise. 2021 saw a new high for the “outdated format”. Vinyl and CD sales skyrocketed last year, vinyl sales bringing in $1 billion dollars in revenue by themselves, while 2021 also saw CDs make a huge comeback, shipping out 46.6 million units.

Vinyl Lives is Glide’s inside look into the vinyl industry and local record stores across the country. In this edition, we are looking at Inner Groove Records located in Collingswood, New Jersey. It’s a small record store specializing in used vinyl right across the bridge from Philadelphia. 

Can you please provide a short history of the store and what kind of music you specialize in? How much of your stock is new vs old?

Inner Groove Records opened on January 24, 2015, during a very cold winter in New Jersey. We are a big classic rock shop, big jazz, we also are well stocked in funk/soul, and have many subcategories-Reggae, Calypso, Folk, Country, Children’s, International, Dance, Sinatra, New Wave. We are 90% vintage vinyl and also maintain a new section that is usually about 500 pieces. We participate in RSD as well.

Other than your own store, what and where is the greatest record store shopping experience you ever had?

Bananas in St Petersburg Florida is a huge store

What is your greatest $1 bin find?

Once pulled a Tripsichord White Label Promo in NM/NM from a head shop that was closing in the Atlantic City area!

Do you have a cheap bin and what do you typically find in there?

Yes! We have thousands of dollar records and also a $3 bin. The dollar section is a lot of good common rock in fair condition and also chock full of fun crooner-type music as well as many offbeat and interesting finds that have small market appeal. The $3 section is mainly common titles in VG+ condition. Things like BTO, Rick Derringer, America…. 80’s 12″s, some fusion jazz, and other common 70’s rock/pop.

What used record do you hope to never have to see or listen to again?

Can I give you a few??! So many! The first family comedy LP, Barry Friggin Manilow, those darn Firestone Xmas records!

How has the backup at pressing plants affected what release day means and if there’s been any sort of backlash about this? 

Hasn’t hit us too bad as we are so large with vintage Vinyl. Some new pressings that we had customers anticipating have gotten delayed, but for the most part, we have such a fantastic group of people coming into the store that they all understand.

Thoughts on CDs making a small comeback in the last year?

They did??! We are a vinyl-only store so we aren’t really too aware! There’s enough for us to keep busy with on Wax. Personally, I have nothing against CDs but it seems there are much fewer ways to play them anymore! No cars have CD Players anymore! 

You’d be surprised to know but we sell a lot of ____  

Dolly Parton! Everyone loves Dolly! Also Madonna anything doesn’t last long, as well as the Grease soundtrack flies off our shelves!

What has been your top-selling record this year so far?

Probably one of the RSD titles-the Grateful Dead releases always sell out for us, the RSD Allman Brothers we chewed through quite a few copies.

What labels do you find consistently put out the best product in terms of packaging?

LITA, Analog Productions, and the Blue Note Tone Poet series are quite stunning-thick heavily laminated gatefolds with archival b&w photos inside. A marvelous package and the best in jazz sounds.

As a store, what record labels do you feel best represents what you try to curate?

Tough question-the majors like Atlantic, Columbia, Capitol, RCA, and Elektra definitely. As a big jazz shop obviously we have great reverence for BN, Verve, Prestige, Riverside, and Black Jazz. We also do a fair amount in Psych/Garage/so there are labels there as well. Oh, and of course labels like Island, Immediate, Tuff Gong….could go on for a while here!

What is the most expensive record in your store right now? 

There are a lot of jazz titles that we have first pressed on currently. Miles, Jackie McLean, Sonny Rollins, Coltrane etc. Many titles are $1000 and up. Last year we sold the most expensive single record we ever have. It was a great 1965 uber-rare soul track from an artist named Tamala Lewis, called “You Won’t say Nothing” on Marton Records:

Have you had any in-store signings or performances? What are some of the more memorable ones you’ve had?

We are not huge square footage wise and packed with vinyl-so the only time we’ve been able to do that is in front of the store, which we have done a few times usually on RSD. We are very near a great concert venue-The Scottish Rite, also in Collingswood, NJ so we have had many band members stop in to shop the wax through the years. 

For beginner collectors, what is your recommended turntable, and for seasoned listeners what do you most recommend? 

We are authorized dealers for U-Turn and Music Hall on the more entry side of things and both make excellent products that we have had great success with. We actually use a U-Turn  Orbit Plus as our in-store spinner. In a slick purple finish as well! We are dealers for Michell Engineering on the higher end. We also know the fine people at VPI right here in NJ and heartily recommend them.

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