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All Day Records sells vinyl in a digital age

Sam Miller, 24, of Carrboro, listens to records last Monday at All Day Records in downtown Carrboro. The store sells new and used LPs, singles, tapes and turntables.
Sam Miller, 24, of Carrboro, listens to records last Monday at All Day Records in downtown Carrboro. The store sells new and used LPs, singles, tapes and turntables.

For Ethan Clauset and Charlie Hearon, opening a record shop was a long-awaited dream.

And though the music market has shifted in recent years to the digital realm, All Day Records, the pair’s recently opened vinyl music shop in Carrboro, is meant to be a different kind of musical experience.

“This is really a good time to be into records,” said Clauset, a co-owner of the shop. “There are probably more things being issued right now than ever before in human history, and a lot of it is on vinyl.”

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro area, once home to a nationally recognized music scene, has seen its musical landscape change in recent years.

Merge Records, a successful label founded in Chapel Hill in 1989, moved its offices to Durham in 2001.

Decreased demand forced iconic Franklin Street store Schoolkids Records to close in 2008 after more than 30 years of business.

“The advent of MP3s and digital music has led to file-sharing, which has left a wasteland of major music chains along the roadside,” said Ric Culross, general manager of Schoolkids Records in Raleigh.

But Clauset is optimistic.

Hearon and Clauset have been planning the store for more than a year.

In the small, narrow space at 112A E. Main Street in Carrboro that he helped convert from a bar, Clauset has big plans.

“We want to have a more permanent listening station,” he said. “We’ve thought about starting a record label here, we’ve talked about reissuing some North Carolina records that are of interest to us.”

All Day Records sells music primarily in the vinyl format — 10 to 15 percent are new records and the rest are used, Clauset said.

Increased illegal music downloads on the Internet have taken away from CD purchases — giving vinyl a foothold in the market, Culross said.

But that market shift comes with potential difficulties.

Once a store purchases a vinyl record, it’s theirs to keep, whether or not it sells.

“Major distributors do not allow unsold vinyl to be returned to them as they do unsold CDs,” Culross said. “The burden of a record sitting on the shelf lies solely on the independent store’s shoulders.”

But the demand is still there.

“Record stores that are exclusively vinyl are popping up,” said Jon Mackey, a former employee at Schoolkids’ Chapel Hill location.

“People want vinyl, so there is more available.”

The shop also offers turntables, tapes and vintage stereo gear, Clauset said, and has plans to offer magazines in the future.

The digital music shift doesn’t have to be a threat, Mackey said.

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“One doesn’t have to kill the other,” he said. “Record stores have a place — the owner needs to specialize to stay around.”

Zack Richardson, an employee at All Day Records, thinks his store has found that niche in its growing community.

“[All Day is a] shop that has a community presence,” Richardson said. “It’s a place where people can come to see music and talk about music and just hang out and have a good time.”

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