Monday, December 24, 2007

"Platterpus Records finds fondness for vinyl online"

from - by Anna Marie Kukec

When a photographer and musician met five years ago, they didn't expect something as common as vinyl would lead them into a business partnership.

Peter Kuehl, 40, of Schaumburg and Christopher Grey, 41, of St. Charles own Addison-based Platterpus Records (, an online vinyl record store.

Vinyl LPs and 45s are hardly high-tech but they're the center of a global business that has been growing thanks to the Internet. Avid fans worldwide are seeking certain artists or songs that just aren't available yet on CDs.

Most Platterpus customers are from the U.S., Japan, Korea and United Kingdom, they said.

"A lot of college kids are buying the old vinyl because their parents had them. They've become very retro," Grey said.

The two men met about five years ago when Kuehl was photographing Grey's suburban band, the Swizzlesticks. The two men and their wives became friends. Kuehl later helped photograph albums for posting on Grey's eBay record store, Shades of Grey.

Then Grey saw a Louisville, Ky.-based business, Platterpus Records, was posted for sale on eBay. Grey convinced Kuehl of its possibilities.

In April, the men rented a U-Haul truck and drove to Kentucky to buy out Platterpus. They loaded up 25,000 albums and added them to Grey's 50,000 already being stored in a warehouse behind his graphics business in Addison.

"Vinyls are making a comeback now because of a lot of younger bands have been recording on both vinyl and on a CD," said Kuehl.

When you purchase vinyl albums today, they often come with a CD or a coupon to go online to download the music to MP3 players.

Platterpus sells albums from the 1950s through today at prices ranging from $2 to $250. Some rare albums have fetched much more.

The partners recently sold the Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman" from the 1960s for $90; a jazz organist Rhoda Scott album also from the 1960s for $250; and a Patti Smith LP, "Radio Ethiopia," signed by the singer-songwriter for $1,200.

While not all vinyl albums are keepers, others are melted down to make quaint dishes that are filled with candy and sold as gifts, the men said.

The old-time music and gifts are expected to reap about $80,000 in sales this year, they estimated.

And they're in the market to buy and sell even more records in the coming year and upgrade their Web site to be more interactive.

"This business is a definite connection with my youth," Grey said. "Vinyl was a big part of my life growing up and listening to something good and enjoying it all. It's just been great."

The partners also made a promotional video that has been active on YouTube ( It shows a young girl trying to reach for a cookie jar in a top kitchen shelf. She's finally successful when she climbs on top of a stack of vinyl record albums.

The tagline then says: "Let's see an MP3 player do that."

photo by Tanit Jarusan

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