Music junkies seeking out vinyl records

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  • Erica Pennington/Beloit Daily News Tin Dog Records, 312 State St., offers new and used records for sale in downtown Beloit. Owners Jason Staack and Shannon Fitzgerald hope the shop helps spread a love and appreciation for music.

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    Tin Dog Records owners Jason Staack and Shannon Fitzgerald say that owning the shop is a labor of love.

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    Erica Pennington/Beloit Daily News Both casual and die-hard collectors can find all sorts of great vinyl options at Tin Dog Records in downtown Beloit.

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    Erica Pennington/Beloit Daily News In addition to selling vinyl, Tin Dog Records has a variety of gift items available for purchase. The jewelry and beard oil pictured here are made locally.

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    Braatz

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    Ian Barker

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    Swanson

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    Photo provided This "Creatures of the Night" album features glow-in-the-dark vinyl. It is one of Jerry Swanson's favorite finds.

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    Photo provided Alice Cooper's "From the Inside" album features opening doors. Jerry Swanson says vinyl sleeve artwork is one of the things that makes record collecting so fun.

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    Photo provided Tin Dog Records, 312 State St., offers a variety of new and used vinyl for sale, in addition to gifts, T-shirts and more. Owners Jason Staack and Shannon Fitzgerald are also opening up the shop for performances by local artists.

  • Erica Pennington/Beloit Daily News Tin Dog Records, 312 State St., offers new and used records for sale in downtown Beloit. Owners Jason Staack and Shannon Fitzgerald hope the shop helps spread a love and appreciation for music.

  • 1

    Tin Dog Records owners Jason Staack and Shannon Fitzgerald say that owning the shop is a labor of love.

  • 2

    Erica Pennington/Beloit Daily News Both casual and die-hard collectors can find all sorts of great vinyl options at Tin Dog Records in downtown Beloit.

  • 3

    Erica Pennington/Beloit Daily News In addition to selling vinyl, Tin Dog Records has a variety of gift items available for purchase. The jewelry and beard oil pictured here are made locally.

  • 4

    Braatz

  • 5

    Ian Barker

  • 6

    Swanson

  • 7

    Photo provided This "Creatures of the Night" album features glow-in-the-dark vinyl. It is one of Jerry Swanson's favorite finds.

  • 8

    Photo provided Alice Cooper's "From the Inside" album features opening doors. Jerry Swanson says vinyl sleeve artwork is one of the things that makes record collecting so fun.

  • 9

    Photo provided Tin Dog Records, 312 State St., offers a variety of new and used vinyl for sale, in addition to gifts, T-shirts and more. Owners Jason Staack and Shannon Fitzgerald are also opening up the shop for performances by local artists.

BELOIT - After collecting dust, many people threw out their records and transitioned to cassettes or CDs.

Boy, do they regret that decision.

The popularity of vinyl records has exploded over the past decade, and music fans are more eager than ever to support shops like Tin Dog Records.

"Being able to touch a record offers such a different experience for music fans instead of just downloading a song," said Tin Dog Records co-owner Jason Staack.

First opened in 2014, Tin Dog Records, 312 State St., has always been a go-to for finding a mix of affordable records, according to local music fans.

The downtown Beloit shop offers mostly used vinyl targeted towards the casual and beginning collector. Many albums are priced from $5 to $15.

"We hear a lot from customers that they're mad about having gotten rid of their old records," said Tin Dog Records co-owner Shannon Fitzgerald.

Jerry Swanson, 53, of Beloit, has been a regular customer since the beginning. He frequently stops by to flip through the bins and see what he can find.

"I grew up on vinyl and had a pretty good collection going, but I had to get rid of it after graduating high school and moving away," he said.

About four years ago, Swanson - who is an avid music fan, guitarist and internet radio show host - decided it was time to rebuild.

He started his new vinyl collection by tracking down old favorites, like albums by KISS, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Rush.

Swanson managed to find a few others as well. Now his collection is numbering at least 250 records, and it keeps growing.

"My problem now is finding a place to put them all," he joked. "I feel a sense of accomplishment finding a record instead of just buying it online."

According to Forbes, vinyl record album sales have seen a 260-plus percent increase since 2009, though it earlier seemed that the format would go extinct.

Companies are taking note and artists are more frequently releasing new music on vinyl. Turntables are being made with features like Bluetooth and built-in speakers.

Music fans even predict that high-definition vinyl may be coming soon, and Billboard recently reported that album sales went up 15 percent in 2018.

"Record Store Day, April 13, basically brought everything back to life because it encourages people to shop locally for music," Fitzgerald said.

Swanson said that he believes the nostalgia-factor is a huge reason why records have had such a fantastic comeback.

The other major reason is simple: he thinks the music just sounds better.

"With records you get to hear everything that gets stripped away when it's compressed," he said. "Digital is convenient, but this is really how music was meant to be heard."

Bill Braatz, 57, of Beloit, also has been working to rebuild a long-lost record collection.

As a longtime drummer, Braatz sees vinyl as a special way to connect with the music.

"Before YouTube or the internet you'd pour over the record and stare at the pictures and cover," he said.

Right now Braatz has around 70 albums. He's trying to be selective in his purchases and mostly focus on jazz music, as his son is a jazz musician at Beloit Memorial High School.

"At first he (son)didn't really understand the whole vinyl thing, but once he picked up a Miles Davis record he started to get bit by the bug," Braatz said.

One of the youngest regular customers at Tin Dog Records is Ian Barker, 14, of South Beloit.

Barker has been playing guitar for about four years and is eager to keep discovering new artists.

"My parents are huge music fans and my dad used to always play classic rock in the car and the house," Barker said.

Right now Barker owns around 100 records. He enjoys his favorites - like Pink Floyd and The Beatles - but is always willing to listen to something new.

"I always let the records find me...I go into the store knowing what I want to find, but half the time I end up leaving the shop with something else," he said.

Barker said that while he loves listening to music, the interaction with other music fans at the record shop is what truly makes collecting vinyl so much fun.

"It's a community," he said. "Tin Dog really has some of the nicest people I've ever met."

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