On Sunday, Brent Jackson, the 39-year-old owner of Old Gold Vintage Vinyl, an eclectic, pop-up record shop that recently landed a permanent address in Osborne Village, will be one of 90 vendors taking part in Rockin’ Richard’s Record and CD Sale.
This will be Jackson’s 20th appearance at the twice-a-year sale in Winnipeg, the second largest of its kind in the country. And while the hip-hop, funk and soul DJ again devoted a chunk of time in the days leading up to the event debating which albums to bring along and which to leave behind, he admits he could have simplified things somewhat, by heading there with boxes and boxes filled with the exact same album.
"Seriously, if I went there with nothing but Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, I’d probably be just as far ahead at the end of the day," he says with a chuckle, flipping through his stacks, hunting for a copy of the perennial best-seller that topped the charts 42 years ago, thanks to a stream of hit singles that included Dreams, Go Your Own Way and You Make Lovin’ Fun. "Every show, it never fails; one teenage girl after another approaches my table, asking if I have Rumours. Last time out I brought 10 copies and all 10 were gone within the first hour."
Despite rumours (there’s that word, again) to the contrary, Jackson’s springtime decision to set up shop inside Urban Waves, a pop culture emporium located at 187 Osborne St., had zilch to do with Into the Music owner Greg Tonn’s announcement in March that he would be closing his Osborne Street location at the end of June, while leaving his flagship, Exchange District operation intact.
Was Jackson aware the Osborne Village Into the Music was closing? Sure. Did he open up a couple blocks away in an attempt to cash in on that bit of news? Not a chance.
"It definitely wasn’t some cutthroat plan, I’m not competitive in the least," he says, reaching over to turn down his stereo, currently blasting German singer Nina Hagen’s 1983 release, Fearless. "I’d already been looking at available space for close to a year, so it’s not like coming here was some snap decision. Even if (Into the Music) hadn’t closed, I still would have opened up because to me, consumers should have as many options as possible when it comes to buying anything, records included. I’m too young to remember but in the ‘70s and ‘80s, wasn’t there something crazy like 20 record stores in the downtown area alone?"
Jackson, a record collector first and an entrepreneur second, figures he was 15 when he first got turned on to vinyl. It was a good time to get into the hobby, he recalls, as a lot of long-time music-nuts were selling their albums for a song, opting to replace their favourite LPs with crisper sounding, CD versions, instead.
As the years went by, Jackson’s life began to revolve around music, more and more. He’d wake up wondering what treasure he was going to unearth that day or what genre he should explore next.
"My brain was insatiable. It was as if I needed to feed it something new, music-wise, on a daily basis," he says.
Around 10 years ago, by which time his personal cache numbered in the thousands, Jackson decided to go into the record-selling business, first by showing up with laundry baskets full of stuff at record conventions such as Rockin’ Richard’s and later, by establishing an online store. His reasoning was twofold: A) by selling titles he had doubles of or was no longer interested in, he could make enough money to buy more records, and B) he figured his fellow Winnipeggers were in dire need of some choice, records that didn’t fall into a category he sarcastically refers to as "dad-rock."
"You go to a lot of the used record shops and flea markets in town and it’s the same o’ same o’," he says, noting he’d die happy if he never came across another copy of Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell. "I’ve always been drawn to more offbeat stuff — obscure albums or artists that stimulate the mind a bit more — and I figured I probably wasn’t the only one who felt that way."
In between record shows, Jackson began teaming up with a gal friend of his who operated a vintage clothing biz. Every few months, they’d stage a pop-up sale somewhere in the city where she’d sell garments while he peddled albums. Because his friend was also selling clothes on a consignment basis at Urban Waves, she urged him to contact Michele Arcand, Urban Waves’ owner, to see if she’d be interested in adding vinyl records to her arsenal of sunglasses, T-shirts and jewelry.
Old Gold Vintage Vinyl opened inside Urban Waves at the end of May. Initially, Arcand granted Jackson counter space for a solitary bin of records. Largely due to word of mouth, one bin led to two, two led to three, and so on and so forth. Nowadays, Jackson has between 3,000 and 4,000 titles for sale at any one time, divided into sections that include classic rock, funk, reggae and soundtracks (a sealed copy of Satan in High Heels, a 1962 sexploitation flick starring pin-up model Meg Myles, anyone?).
"Every Thursday I bring in new stuff," he says, standing in front of a feature wall displaying some of the harder-to-find albums he has up for grabs, eye-catchers such as Iron Maiden’s Live After Death, Devo’s Duty Now for the Future and Chad Allan and the Expressions’ Hey Ho (What You Do to Me). "It’s kinda cool; I get here just before we open and the same six guys are already standing in line, waiting to see what I’m going to be putting out, that week."
Since joining forces with Jackson, Arcand has been able to reap the rock and roll benefits of their association by playing whatever she’s in the mood for, during store hours.
"I’m not some big vinyl collector like Brent is but I do enjoy music, and it’s fun to poke through the bins and spot something I haven’t listened to in eons," she says, dropping the needle on an album by Captain Beyond, a psychedelic rock band formed in Los Angeles in the early 1970s.
Arcand says it’s not uncommon for people who come to her store for one thing, a pair of stud earrings or leather belt perhaps, to walk out with an album or three under their arm. But does it work the other way around? Do people hunting for a copy of Joni Mitchell’s Blue or the Clash’s Give ‘Em Enough Rope sometimes head home with an item of hers, to boot?
"Ha, those record shoppers have tunnel vision," she says. "I don’t know if they look up from the (album) bins even once while they’re in here."
It’s expected close to 1,000 people will file through the doors at tomorrow’s Rockin’ Richard’s Record and CD Sale, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Victoria Inn, 1808 Wellington Ave., which will feature members of Streetheart as special guests. Jackson will be offering a mix of "cool jazz," a garageful of which he recently came into possession of, ‘80s punk and heavy metal. He doesn’t hesitate when asked why he thinks there is still an audience for vinyl, especially in a day and age when a person can have as much music stored in their phone as he has in his entire store.
"Putting a record on is a bit of a ritual. It’s not like you can do it while you’re riding your bike or sitting on a bus," he says, noting while everything he’ll have with him at the Victoria Inn will be in good to excellent condition, when it comes to his own shelves, he’s never been one to shy away from albums that have a bit of writing on the cover or a taped-up spine, figuring that simply adds to their character.
"It takes time to remove an album from its sleeve, put it on the turntable, clean it and drop the needle. Because of that, wherever you choose to listen to your records, whether it’s in the living room or basement, becomes this sacred space almost. That’s a big part of the draw, I think."
Dave Sanderson was born in Regina but please, don’t hold that against him.
Updated on Saturday, October 5, 2019 at 4:20 PM CDT: fixes typo