I took a short detour off the 401 on my way from Toronto the Ottawa to check out Andrew’s Vinyl Alternative in downtown Brockville, Ontario. It’s a small store that is run personally by Andrew Van Der Kloer. Andrew told me that he grew up in the area and got into this because of his love of music and especially music on vinyl. He had worked at a local vinyl store in Brockville, and when the owner was closing it down he made a deal to purchase the stock and open his own store. He just celebrated his first year in business the week before I stopped by. I love stories like this.
When you visit the Facebook page for Vinyl Alternative, Andrew has posted great videos of the latest vinyl to come into the store.
Andrew had some nice vintage jazz playing when I came into the store. The music had that alluring crackle of old vinyl that tells you its a record playing and you know that your enjoyment isn’t going to be disrupted by a flip to a completely different song in a digital playlist.
We shared stories about great concerts we had been to. I loved Andrew’s story about seeing The Tragically Hip at Bluesfest and meeting people who had come up from the US to see them for the twentieth time. He had a nice piece of Hip vinyl but at $100, it was outside my budget. With the passing of Gord Downie, Hip vinyl has shot up in value.
I found his selection of vinyl excellent. Of course we’re all biased in these judgements when we see albums that we’ve been looking for or already have in our collections. And then I agonize over whether this copy is in better condition than the one I already have in my collection. Ok, I need to go back and grade everything in my collection and get that into Discogs. OMG, if this is the is my biggest problem, my life is golden.
Andrew’s inventory is super well organized alphabetically by genre and artist. The top bins have cleaned records in quality sleeves and clearly priced. Below these bins were the duplicates. This system ensures that you’re not flipping through endless copies of Anne Murray. Nothing wrong with Anne Murray trecords if that’s your taste, but no one needs to look at a dozen copies. Those lower bins are also alphabetically ordered, so when I found the Moody Blues set I wanted I could go to the bottom bin and check the top bin copy against the three copies in the duplicate bins so I could choose the best one. Nice!
Andrew also sells vintage equipment that he personally refurbishes. He was working on an eighties vintage Dual 1229. The prices are excellent for this equipment. If you`re coming form upstate New York, you can expect some great buys given the current state of the Canadian dollar.
So you know I scored a nice 1974 Moody Blues anthology, but what else did Andrew send me away with?
Forty years ago in 1978, Kate Bush released her first album Kick Inside. I first heard this album while visiting a friend in Vancouver. Sitting on her balcony with my future wife watching the sun set over English Bay and listening to the haunting tunes that are Kick Inside. No wonder I have such fond memories of this recording and was excited to find it in Andrew’s stock.
Andrews Vinyl Alternative was well worth the 15 minute detour off the 401.