MANKATO, Minn. (WCCO) — This weekend, independent record stores all across the country will come together to celebrate “Record Store Day” in appreciation of their unique culture and staying power.
In honor of that, we went in search of the best of Minnesota. Your vote for the best crate-digging spot is Tune Town in Mankato.
Carl Nordmeier was destined to own a record store. Friends say he’s a wealth of knowledge about music.
“The employees here have always called him “The Almight Nordmeier,” Tune Town employee Andy Sundwall said. “We try stumping him, and he knows too much, almost.”
Carl opened Tune Town in Fairbault in 1993, then a second shop in Mankato in 1997.
“I wanted to do something that I was passionate about — loved — and I’ve been into music since I was probably 10 yrs old,” he said. “First it was baseball cards, then comic books, then music. And music stuck.”
It’s that palpable passion that made him the best of Minnesota. For Record Store Day on Saturday, they’ll be selling some limited edition and exclusive vinyl.
His shop, Tune Town, survived the digital revolution and is now riding a vinyl resurgence.
“Stuff that came out in the mid 90s — a lot of it didn’t get released on vinyl because no one bought it,” Carl said. “Nowadays, people are crazy about vinyl.”
Much like music, vinyl is coming full circle.
“You take it out of the sleeve, put it on the table, put the needle on and listen,” Carl said.
And instead of sitting behind a computer to browse music, Tune Town regulars say they prefer the experience of going into the store.
“It’s a little bit like going to an antique shop or maybe a yard sale,” a local Dead-Head at Tune Town said. “You never know for sure what’s going to be there.”
So what’s the secret to a successful record shop?
“People were saying every time they come in here there’s something new and different,” Carl said. “We take stuff in every day, someone brings in something. We cherry pick what’s the best.”
With the recent resurgence of records, a lot of it is just about timing.
“I think a lot of it is nostalgia,” Sundwall said. “They grew up with it. Kids now are getting into it.”
That’s because nothing stirs memories like music, and records are memories you can hold in your hands.
“There’s more love in a vinyl record than streaming or downloading — there’s something to hold onto,” Carl said.
And Tune Town is where people comes to re-live those memories, and make new ones
“I think for a lot of people, if they didn’t have music in their life, they’d be pretty unhappy,” Carl said.
Your other favorite record stores are the Electric Fetus and Hi-fi Hair and Records, both in Minneapolis. All three nominees will be celebrating Record Store Day Saturday with live music, DJ’s, food and drinks.