Friday, December 14, 2007

"Nebraska: Vinyl resurgence brings Backtrack Records back - storefront"

from - by Jeremy Buckley

It didn't exactly involve the cover of a Rolling Stone.

But when Jeff Loos, owner of Backtrack Records, 1549 N. Cotner Blvd., got a call from the magazine asking for his top-selling albums for the week ending Nov. 7, he wasn't sure what to think.

A few weeks later, an issue included Loos' top 10 sellers in the chart listings in the back of the magazine.

"I was shocked," Loos said. "I thought it was a prank call. I guess they randomly picked the city of Lincoln and found my store on the Internet."

The list included newer albums from classic rockers such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, showcasing exactly the selection Loos is focusing on with the store.

He originally opened Backtrack in 1988 but moved to Internet-only sales at the end of 1999 when the vinyl industry was stagnant.

During his years as an Internet retailer, Loos amassed thousands upon thousands of records and compiled quite the database for customers to peruse around the world.

Early this year, Loos recognized a recent resurgence in the popularity of vinyl and began driving the streets of Lincoln, looking for potential storefronts available for rent.

After finding the North Cotner location (one block north of 66th and Holdrege streets) was to his liking, Loos began to move his inventory - currently at 15,000 - on site.

"Lately, people anywhere from college-aged to older adults are buying newer record players with USB ports installed," Loos said. "Then they can transfer the records to their hard drives to burn onto CDs. Vinyl is really holding its own."

Loos is still offering his wares on the Internet, noting a recent sale of a Jethro Tull boxed set to someone at an embassy in Estonia and another sale to a doctor in Russia. He sells LPs, 45s, DVDs, CDs, posters and cassettes out of the store.

Most of his purchases come from labels that specialize in vinyl, such as Rhino Records. He'll also consider used records as long as they're in pretty good condition.

"Quality is really important when it comes to records," Loos said. "They're analog, so the sound is much warmer than CDs, which are digital, but they have to be in good shape."

Loos said he's seeing a lot of people come back to the shop who were customers from the late 1990s. He's run a couple television commercials and plans to run some in the future, budget permitting. But Loos thinks a lot of his newer customers have sought him out.

"We're basically a vintage record shop," he said. "But there's stuff college kids are going to like. We've got stuff from bands like the Ramones and Madonna to Country, Rock, Jazz and The Blues."

Liz Hitt, a local musician with the Terminals, said she's been going to Backtrack since the '90s and was even able to buy some records after he went online.

"Even when he had records just at his house, I'd buy some from him there," Hitt said. "He's always had a great selection of '60s rock.

"He had a stack a foot-and-a-half long just of the 'Thriller' album."

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