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If you’ve wandered around the Sacramento area much at all, or if you frequent the Tower Theater area on Broadway, chances are you’re already familiar with Dimple Records. Dimple Records has locations throughout the area, including Broadway, Arden, Elk Grove, Roseville, Citrus Heights, and Folsom. Walk into any of these locations, and you’ll be greeted by the sweet smell of incense and a mesmerizing explosion of sights: CD’s, posters, flyers, DVD’s, video games, books, and of course beautiful vinyl records. Dimple has been a fixture of Sacramento’s music scene since it was started in the 1980’s by John Radakovitz, who previously sold records out of the back of a van for now defunct Canterbury Records. For the third and last part of our series on vinyl records, I spoke to John’s wife and business partner, Dilyn Radakovitz, to get some of her insights into Dimple, the local music scene, and today’s vinyl resurrection.
So how is it that Dimple survived and even thrives today? Dimple survived the rise of digital music by being innovative and keeping a pulse on the local community. While Tower, Virgin, and other large retailers collapsed, Dimple bought back pre-owned items, encouraging locals to trade in and sell music, effectively becoming a crossroads of music exchange in Sacramento. But this model could only go so far, especially when it came to vinyl. If record stores were going to keep being viable, people had to get excited about physical music again!Before digital music killed the CD, there was a time when the CD very nearly killed vinyl. Dilyn tells me, “CD’s were so strong that the vinyl makers almost stopped making vinyl entirely. They were not readily available for everything anymore.”
Record Store Day was the solution. When I ask Dilyn to comment on the resurgence of interest in vinyl among younger generations she laughs. Dilyn tells me that when she and some other retailers were at a conference, they got word that Tower Records was closing, and the media had declared the death of the record store. A comic shop owner in attendance suggested that Free Comic Book day could be an effective model.
“That’s a dumb idea.” Dilyn recalls saying.
She didn’t see how it could be tenable at the time. Comic stores worked off of a subscription basis; how could that work for a chain of independent record stores?
But after some thought, Dilyn and a handful of other retailers went to the record labels and pitched Record Store Day. A few labels liked the idea and agreed to give it a shot.
“The labels wanted to do vinyl because it wasn’t returnable. So when the other labels saw that we would buy vinyl, and it wasn’t returned, the next year there were more people. And then by the third year they were lined up. That’s how it started, and there were only five of us that really started that thing.”That thing worked, and vinyl is back in force. Sparked by Record Store Day promotions and carried aloft by vinyl enthusiasts who never really went away, as well as a new generation of audiophiles dedicated to pristine conditions of sound and aesthetics, vinyl has found its place in the 21st Century. Independent and major labels alike are pressing new copies of vinyl (usually with an accompanying digital download) throughout the year. While swap meets and thrift stores are great for procuring old and used vinyl records, Dimple Records is second to none for finding new vinyl locally. All the locations have offerings of vinyl, but the Arden Dimple Books and Vinyl store is the best for finding that one record you’ve been looking for forever. I’ve picked up new needles and cleaning sets for my Crosley and found some pretty rare pieces on my visits there; the most prized of which is my copy of Megadeth’s album, “Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good!”, complete with original cover art.
Dimple Records is exactly what a record store should be: a place for community built through music. Local bands from every conceivable music scene and genre put up flyers advertising shows at Harlow’s, The Boardwalk, Starlight, Press Club, Ace of Spades, and more. Concert tickets are sold at all Dimple locations, and Sacramento’s music enthusiasts meet to buy, sell, and recommend music to each other. You can often discover new bands, local and distant, through the advertised flyers in the front of the shops and in store performances by artists such as E-40, Brotha Lynch Hung, and others. One of my favorite memories is seeing Matisyahu perform in store at the Arden location a few years back.The importance of a physical location for buying music can’t be overstated. It’s true that ordering something off of Amazon might be easier, especially if the vinyl record you’re looking for isn’t in stock at your local record shop. But this is a place you can really sink your teeth into, a place where you can meet people and actually interact on a face-to-face level. This is a place you can come and explore! Part of the thrill of the hunt for that perfect record is the fact that they can be hard to find. Sometimes, during this process, you’ll discover new music to fall in love with. When you go out there and explore a place like Dimple, that’s the thrill, knowing you have to search and travel to get your hands on the record you’re hunting and not knowing what you may end up finding. When you finally find it, you’ll know that nothing can beat that feeling of walking out with freshly pressed new vinyl under your arm, hurrying home, and maybe grabbing a friend on the way to give it a listen. And maybe ask for a recommendation from a staff member while you’re at it; they’re around this stuff all day. Happy hunting!
Photos | Andre Elliott
Stay connected with all things Sacramento and beyond.