HOUTZDALE – Hidden away in a shop on Hannah Street in Houtzdale is a time capsule where vinyl records are still king.
Walking into MoValley Records is like walking back in time to a record store from the 1970’s or a collectable shop from the 1980’s.
Owner Steve Roe is a vinyl record lover who has changed his hobby into a store where other vinyl groupies can gather and swap both stories and records.
The renewed interest in vinyl has been growing steadily since 2007, Steve explained on my visit to the store. He doesn’t know what has triggered this trend but suddenly vinyl is “cool” again.
The Seattle native and his pastor wife, Christine, moved to Clearfield County in 2017 when she was sent to attend to the flocks at the Faith Lutheran Church in Houtzdale and the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Philipsburg.
The couple discussed helping out the Houtzdale community by starting a business and tossed around a few different ideas (coffee shop, bakery) before settling on a record store.
Steve said he did a business plan, researched the competition in the area and didn’t find much in the immediate area other than flea markets or antique stores selling classic vinyl.
He built up his business slowly, using some of his own collection as inventory, which he now regrets. His plan was to reach sustainability and be able to pay all the bills with the profits.
“I didn’t take out a loan,” he said.
The store opened in 2019.
He has kept his day job as an army training specialist, which he is able to do online.
“I am looking forward to only doing this someday,” he said.
From the start he wanted his place to feel like “a real record store” and “not a flea market booth.”
His efforts have paid off with classic rock playing, walls full of posters and albums displayed, creating an atmosphere where you can also purchase needles for your turntable, record sleeves, cleaning products and even 45 rpm adaptors or “spiders”.
In addition to selling them, he also purchases records. When determining the value of an album, he refers to Discogs a Web site that lists the value of various pressings of LPs.
The other members of the vinyl community often reach out and help each other. Some have become YouTube influencers in an effort to sell their wares.
Although he hasn’t tried that end of it, he does do online record auctions on the Whatnot marketplace Web site.
“It is kinda fun.”
With the resurgence of vinyl has come the chance to also offer new pressings.
According to Billboard magazine, 43.46 million vinyl albums were sold in 2022, the 17th consecutive year of growth for the format which actually outsold CDs.
Taylor Swift’s Midnights was the best-selling LP of last year.
Overall, most of Steve’s customers are looking for something classic.
His clientele come from three different groups:
- Those who have vinyl collections, stopped playing their albums but have now gotten back into it.
- People from the 80’s who didn’t grow up with records but are now asking “what’s this vinyl thing about?”
- Young people for who it is “totally new”, nostalgic and retro.
For those used to streaming their music on their phones and only seeing photos of the cover art, holding an actual LP makes the experience “more real” for them as it is their copy and “they can take ownership of it.” Watching a record turn as the music plays, is a bit of magic, he explained.
They are learning about the additional items that sometimes came with vinyl albums including song lyrics, liner notes, sleeves with ads for other albums and posters.
An album cover itself with all its creases and slight tears reveals a history.
“I think of myself as a curator of artifacts,” Steve said.
When he gets an LP, he cleans it up, and puts it in a new sleeve, getting it ready “for someone else to enjoy.”
“It’s like having temporary ownership of this record and your job is to take care of it.”
Spending time cleaning albums, researching and talking with others about music for Steve is “a labor of love.”
Hours for the store are limited: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
If you have any questions, you can call 814-414-2956 or check out the Facebook page.