A welcomed inconvenience

Thomas Tedesco, Culture Editor

“Just take those old records off the shelf…”

The opening line of Bob Seger’s 1978 hit, “Old Time Rock and Roll”, a song that describes the desire to relive the days of the past through old records still appears to hold some weight in 2021.

For over a decade, the sale of vinyl records has grown drastically. Last year, 27.5 million units were sold and accounted for 27 percent of all album sales in the United States.

The format has even surpassed CDs in sales for the first time in 35 years.

These numbers bode well for record store owners like Phil Machemer, who owns a series of Buffalo-based stores called Revolver Records.

Its nearest location to Buffalo State is located on Elmwood Avenue, just a little over a mile down the road.

Machemer says he had been aware of vinyl’s resurgence for many years since he started out as a collector himself.

“It’s like a welcomed inconvenience,” Machemer said. “Not everybody wants to own music, but I’ve always been that way. I want to own the physical format.”

After acquiring thousands of vinyl records, he initially started selling them in 2012 at various flea markets in the Buffalo area and quickly grew a sizeable customer base. This led him to open his first location on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo in 2015.

“That was a no brainer to me,” Machemer said about opening his first location. “I had my niche in the city and it was instantly great.”

Over the next few years, Machemer’s customer base continued to grow with the resurgence of vinyl in full swing.

“I quickly outgrew that store. I had so much stuff in there that it was jammed up with a lot of records,” he said.

Initially, Machemer contemplated several ideas for another location, but ultimately decided to open his second store in another prominent Buffalo neighborhood on Elmwood Avenue.

“You got these two neighborhoods, Hertel and Elmwood, and even though they’re about 10 minutes apart there would easily be a record shop in any of them. Why couldn’t they both be my shops?” Machemer said.

It’s not just dad-rockers looking relive the past that are currently buying vinyl. According to Statista, people between the ages of 24-35 were the most likely to purchase vinyl.

Machemer says that he sees people of all demographics come into his stores to buy the albums.

“It’s very diverse. There’s people of all different likenesses that buy records here, you can’t pigeonhole it,” he said.

Second year music major, Joey Bastian,  said that Revolver Records was a significant part of him starting to collect vinyl records.

“The first time I went to Revolver was actually the first time I went to a record store,” Bastian said. “It’s a hotspot for me and it’s a great place to shop.”

Machemer attributes his loyal base of customers to his success and sustaining his business, even through the tough times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He recently opened his third Revolver Records store location on Transit Road in Williamsville and has since expanded the store to include more records, a wide selection of sodas, arcade machines and a stage for in-store performances.

He plans on continuing to expand into other areas of the business in the future.

“I have nothing set in stone, but where I’d like to see Revolver go in the next 10 years is to actually have a record pressing plant. We would be pressing records and distributing them as well,” Machemer said.