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A store that's in tune with the times

Exchange icon draws shoppers into the music

Greg Tonn's store Into the Music is one of Winnipeg's oldest and most loved used record stores, with a huge selection of merchandise and a loyal customer base.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Greg Tonn's store Into the Music is one of Winnipeg's oldest and most loved used record stores, with a huge selection of merchandise and a loyal customer base.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/8/2015 (1384 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Even if you're not a record collector, you've probably heard of Into the Music, one of the city's oldest used record stores, and a bright, cosy mainstay of the Exchange District.

Walking up the half-dozen stairs into the shop, located at 245 McDermot Ave., customers are greeted by a colourful wallpaper of local concert posters in the wide stairwell, and a collage of small strips of tape, still holding the torn corners of old ads. Beyond are racks upon racks groaning under thousands of neatly organized records and CDs

In an age when most customers could carry the digital equivalent of their record collections on their smartphones, owner Greg Tonn said he and his customers share a devotion to the physical side of consuming music.

"Listening to records and having a record collection, just like having a CD collection, is more meaningful (than digital files)," Tonn said.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/8/2015 (1384 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Even if you're not a record collector, you've probably heard of Into the Music, one of the city's oldest used record stores, and a bright, cosy mainstay of the Exchange District.

Walking up the half-dozen stairs into the shop, located at 245 McDermot Ave., customers are greeted by a colourful wallpaper of local concert posters in the wide stairwell, and a collage of small strips of tape, still holding the torn corners of old ads. Beyond are racks upon racks groaning under thousands of neatly organized records and CDs

In an age when most customers could carry the digital equivalent of their record collections on their smartphones, owner Greg Tonn said he and his customers share a devotion to the physical side of consuming music.

"Listening to records and having a record collection, just like having a CD collection, is more meaningful (than digital files)," Tonn said.

"It's the ritual of playing a record — pulling it out of the sleeve, cleaning it, dropping the needle, turning the volume up. Those are things that connect me to what's coming out of the speakers."

In the store, a wide-ranging soundtrack piping throughout, posters and prize vinyl are displayed on every wall and each nook and cranny boasts a piece of paraphernalia.

In one back corner, an aging newspaper cutting, a review of a catastrophic Iggy Pop concert from 1982, hangs inconspicuously. Tucked into another is a tiny stage for in-store events, and along one wall are listening stations — the first in Winnipeg, Tonn said — where customers can sample records and CDs before taking them home.

The store has been in its current location for 12 years, but Into the Music has been around for decades. After leaving behind an unfulfilling corporate career in 1984 and taking a few years to travel and save, Tonn opened his doors in 1987, in a 600-square-foot space on Corydon Avenue. At the time, Tonn recalled, he could only half-fill the space, largely with records from his personal collection. He leased out a wall to his mailman, who was working on a PhD in philosophy, to sell books.

Tonn said it was crucial to him then, and still is now, to provide his customers with "a good experience."

That includes a "low-key" approach, great selection ("We take the best and leave the rest," his site promises), a friendly atmosphere and, most importantly to Tonn, a fair and transparent business philosophy when it comes to buying and selling practices.

"When I started, there was kind of a shady quality to second-hand stores," he said.

"I wanted to dispel that notion. If you want to develop trust between you and a customer, you have to bring a certain degree of openness about what you're doing."

That commitment hasn't changed in the last 30 years, but other parts of Tonn's business have. In a surprise twist to dwindling record sales throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, vinyl has been enjoying a renaissance among young listeners. Tonn said he and his five-person staff started seeing the trend kick in about five years ago, as teenagers and young people — once a rarity in the shop — became regulars, and more, newer vinyl began flying off the shelves. After holding out with vinyl during a long period of lows, Tonn said Into the Music is riding high, and he plans to keep going "till I'm 70, I'm sure."

Despite his considerable expertise and his love of listening to and talking about vinyl music, Tonn said Into the Music supports music itself, whatever the medium.

"Get caught up in the music, don't get caught up in the format," Tonn said.

"If that's what works for you, great. You don't have to justify it."

aidan.geary@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Monday, August 31, 2015 at 9:02 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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