Vinyl's return helps Main Street Music play on

Posted: April 09, 2013

P AT FEENEY, 60, of Warrington, Bucks County, has owned Main Street Music in Manayunk since 1991. It's one of the few independent record stores still left in the city and the first official sponsor of WXPN's "Album of the Week."

Q: Most people download music from the Internet. How have you managed to stay in business?

A: It's been rough, I'm not gonna lie. I think it's the allegiance of our customers. They'll see something online but they'll still wait until they come in and buy it from us. If it wasn't for them we probably would have closed years ago.

Q: Who's the typical patron?

A: As far as CD buyers, a lot are old fogies like myself. They buy CDs - they want to own a CD, and they want to have liner notes.

Q: What were you doing before you opened Main Street Music?

A: I started working at a store in Northeast Philadelphia called the Record Seller in 1984 and learned the business there. Then the neighborhood started changing and there was a transition from vinyl to CDs and the store might have been a little slow to make the transition.

Q: Looking back, was coming to Manayunk a smart move?

A: I didn't have a lot of money - $15,000, some of it mine, some of it from my in-laws - and I could only afford a small space. I opened in October 1991 just when the restaurant boomlet was beginning. People came to the store while they were waiting for their dining reservations. Good timing.

Q: This is not just an independent record store, right? Recording artists come here to perform.

A: It's a little unique and we're getting more aggressive with it. The logic early on was to remind people we were here. And it's free - we don't pay the artist and we don't charge the customer to come in. If it's a really big artist, we might ask you to buy the record, which you'll get signed.

Q: How has the revival of vinyl records affected your biz?

A: That's another reason we're surviving now. For the first time in years, we're gaining new customers. I'd say 95 percent of our new customers are vinyl only.

Q: How are you adapting to this change?

A: We just took a CD rack out and replaced it with a vinyl rack. The renewed interest in vinyl is helping make up for loss of sales to iTunes and other downloads.

Q: What percentage of your total customers are vinyl only?

A: I'm guessing it's up over 30 percent. Every label is pressing most everything on vinyl now. Vinyl is also a little more expensive, so that helps our bottom line.

Q: What are annual revenues?

A: I can give you a range - between $100,000 and $500,000.

Q: What's your most favorite thing about the store?

A: Recommending an artist people don't know and then they'll come back and tell me they were here when the artist performed at the store.


On Twitter: @MHinkelman

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