As CDs wane and streaming rules, vinyl once again fuels Boulder County’s record stores

As CDs wane and streaming rules, vinyl once again fuels Boulder County’s record stores
Lindsay Gildersleeve, left, and Olivia Colender talk as they look over vinyl records in Albums on the Hill on 13th Street on University Hill in Boulder on April 10, 2018. (Paul Aiken, Daily Camera)

He may be fuzzy on the exact date, but Andy Schneidkraut — owner of Boulder’s Albums on the Hill — can’t forget that night in 1994.

Hundreds of fans poured down the stairs into his basement-level shop, eager to snatch up brand-new CDs released at midnight by hometown heroes Big Head Todd & The Monsters and the about-to-explode Dave Matthews Band.

“That night, I sold more CDs than I sell now in six months,” says a wistful Schneidkraut, presiding over his empty record store on a recent afternoon.

Music retail in Boulder County is now nearly unrecognizable from that 1990s heyday, a CD-fueled bonanza that peaked when — by Schneidkraut’s count — there were 18 different record stores operating in Boulder alone.

Today, following the recent closure of Absolute Vinyl, there are only two dedicated record shops left in Boulder, and just three in the whole county.

Digital streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music now rule the consumer market, and the compact disc’s death knell is growing louder. But it’s vinyl — which never quite made it to the dustbin of music-format history — that’s helping sustain those remaining brick-and-mortar retailers.

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