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updated: 9/17/2014 8:36 AM

New Wheaton store to focus on vinyl records

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  • Abby and Allie Paeth hold vinyl albums their father, Michael Paeth, will carry in his Mile Long Records store, expected to open about Oct. 15 in downtown Wheaton.

      Abby and Allie Paeth hold vinyl albums their father, Michael Paeth, will carry in his Mile Long Records store, expected to open about Oct. 15 in downtown Wheaton.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

Let's say you go up in the attic, find your old stereo and dig out some of the vinyl albums you loved so well.

Then you discover you're missing a few of your favorites.

That's where Michael Paeth hopes to come in when he opens his Mile Long Records store later this fall in downtown Wheaton.

He figures you're not alone.

Paeth said he was in his garage building displays for the new store when the dad of one of his daughter's friends dropped by to meet him. When Paeth explained what he was doing, the man got excited.

"I love vinyl records," the man told Paeth.

"Inside of 10 minutes, he wanted to go out and buy a turntable," Paeth said.

Paeth is counting on many people having similar reactions. The lifelong music lover and guitar player knew a vinyl record store would be a hit with what he calls "nostalgia freaks" like himself, but he decided to quit his day job and make it a reality after he became aware that young people are interested in vinyl, too.

His daughters, Abby, 17, and Allie, 15, plan to work with him in Mile Long Records that Paeth anticipates will open about Oct. 15 at 350 W. Front St.

Abby said her friends think the idea of having a vinyl record store is cool.

"It's so different," she said. "It's a more natural sound. It's not so artificial. It does not sound like it came from a computer at home."

Paeth said MP3 downloads and CDs have their place, but people enjoy the warmer sound of vinyl.

"Vinyl is imperfectly perfect," he said. "It's got flaws, but our ears don't like to hear something that is pristine and perfect."

A number of young artists are now recording in vinyl, and including a CD and MP3 download card with their albums, Paeth said.

"There's a place for all three. Smart artists now are taking advantage of that," he said.

Vinyl sales are only a small percentage of the market, but recording companies are taking note of the interest, Paeth said.

"How do you steal vinyl?" he said, adding that album covers are part of the package. "Vinyl is artwork," he said.

Vinyl new and old

The city of Wheaton is excited about having a vinyl record store, too, Paeth said. Paula Barrington, executive director of the Downtown Wheaton Association, said she expects Mile Long Records to become a destination store, with vinyl collectors coming from long distances to look at the selection.

With a resurgence of interest in vinyl, Paeth said it's getting harder to find records at garage sales and on Craigslist.

"It's definitely more difficult to find good ones," he said. "People are asking top dollars for good titles."

Paeth plans to have 4,000 to 6,000 titles of new and vintage records available in his store.

"As long as it rocks, swings or twinges, I'll try to carry it," he said.

Paeth will carry favorites such as Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, of course. He'll have his own personal favorites, including Wilco, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen. New artists such as St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Benjamin Booker and Sturgill Simpson will be on his shelves, too. But Paeth said he doesn't know yet what customers will go for.

"I'm going to take suggestions. I'm going to listen to what people want," he said.

Paeth said he also wants his store to be like the record stores he enjoyed in the past -- where people hang out, share their love of music and come to hear live music on a weekly or biweekly basis.

Abby said the community aspect will make the store different from the way many people experience music today.

"I think with modern-day technology, you put in your ear buds, your headphones, and you shut out the world and you listen alone," she said.

"With a vinyl record store like this, we all want to feel people can come and find other people with the same love for the same kind of music and have something else in common."

Family business

For Paeth, opening the store comes as the result of a sort of natural progression in his love for music. He's always played in bands, and started a small record label for one of them.

When other independent artists showed an interest, he began a recording studio, Then, last summer when Abby offered to help him sort through his record collection, he saw the store as an opportunity to work with his daughters.

He quit his job as a technical sales representative for a graphics company to make the store a reality.

"It's exciting," he said. "It's going into the unknown. I've always been a person who makes it up as I go."

Abby, a senior at Wheaton North High School, and Allie, a sophomore, share their father's excitement and tastes in music.

"We listen to pretty much everything," Allie said.

Both plan to go to college -- Abby wants to be a journalist and Allie a doctor -- but they said they will stay close to home so they can help out on weekends and school breaks.

Abby said she enjoys the discoveries she makes in sorting through collections of vintage records.

"You never know what you are going to find. I like to dig in bins," she said.

To learn more about Mile Long Records, visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/milelongrecords.

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