Walking into a record store is one of the most exciting things to do for a lover of vinyl music. What if that store could no longer remain open?
COVID-19 restrictions caused these problems for local record stores, including Oshawa’s Kops Records, located at 156 Simcoe St. S.
Co-owner Andrew Koppel says Kops Records is a family business, founded by his father.
“He started it because he began as a collector, before collecting was actually a thing. Back then it was the only way you could have it, and eventually he builds up enough of a collection that he figured, well, why not sell, and, you know, more and more people were asking him for stuff and he just opened up a shop,” says Koppel, who also operates two other stores in Toronto.
Kops Records has been operating since 1976, buying and selling new and used types of vinyl.
Koppel says they only focus on vinyl because they like to “keep it simple”.
Daniela Leo, a record and vinyl collector, says “as opposed to streaming, it feels nice to have a physical copy. Also, the physical appearance of vinyl has a lot more effort put into them, limited edition, coloured vinyls, and custom-designed vinyls.
“Records are sentimental objects that can hold more value and meaning when I have a physical copy with me. The sound quality can also feel different when played on a record player,” says Leo.
When COVID-19 restrictions caused Kops to shut down, this caused them to turn to online shopping. When it comes to selling vinyl online it is not easy and can come with its own challenges which Kops was able to overcome, says Koppel.
“As much as we can try to sell stuff online, there’s a big difference between having something in your hand and being able to say, ‘you know, this is in good enough shape’, so it kind of affected us that way,” says Koppel.
“It also gets a bit difficult to sell online because when it comes to vinyl, there’s some Beatles Abbey Road, if you go online on Discogs you’ll see there are about 1,000 different variations of it from CDs to Canadian, Brazil, all these different pressings. So, selling the exact right pressing takes a lot of time, you have to look it up and make sure it’s the correct one.”
Daniela Leo, a frequent shopper for records, says she would rather shop in person because trying to find vinyl online can come with difficulties.
“Typically, your options are limited. You can try record stores’ websites, but often you will find a larger selection if you go in-store. Also, there is the fear of it getting damaged during the shipping process as well, paying shipping, plus handling practically doubles the cost of your purchase,” says Leo.
Favour Mukoro, another record lover who has always been fascinated with older technologies, agrees: “I am skeptical though because of the shipping and handling of the package is unknown for me, so I never know if the vinyl is scratched or authentic until I get it.
“However, in-person, you can see what you’re buying, and you can trust it more in store because there’s a whole store dedicated to it, so you know they take care of their items,” says Mukoro.
Leo says it has been difficult to go into stores during the pandemic because they may have different hours or may have remained closed due to restrictions, and are not as “accessible” as before.
Koppel says now restrictions have “slowed down” Kops is open 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day except Friday when they are open until 7 p.m.