Some people go to college, land a lucrative career and decide it's not for them. That's exactly what happened to Nick Boor, who quit his IT company and prototype job, so he could sell used records online as the Vinyl Record Dude on eBay, Amazon and his own online store.
Boor's love for records started as a teen when he would ride his bicycle down to Easy Street Tunes in small-town New Philadelphia, Ohio, to purchase records by The Ramones.
His online business started 13 years ago when the merchant was a prototype engineer. At the time, he also owned an IT company, but he only found enjoyment in his records, so he decided to make that his full-time gig.
Vinyl is back
Today, Boor owns more than 500,000 records. He employs 3 people and loves what he's doing, although people were skeptical when he started his venture.
"Everybody was looking at me like I was crazy," Boor recalls. "They wondered why I was opening a warehouse full of obsolete media, but now everybody wants to get into it."
Even banks told him "No!" and Boor had to bootstrap his business. He still tries to sell as much as he can, as fast as he can to continue building on his inventory, but he believes the future of vinyl records is strong.
Millennials are "big into" records right now, nationally recognized companies are airing commercials of people playing records, today's biggest artists are creating vinyl records and new record labels have recently launched, he says.
"I think there's about a 15-year window where this is just going to be a huge thing," Boor adds. "Who knows after that, but I'm just kind of riding that wave."
A 'cool art'
Besides Millennials, who buys records? Collectors, trendy up-cycle artists and audiophiles—those who prefer high-quality sound, he tells us.
"It's been proven the frequency of sound that comes from an analog signal is a broader range sound," Boor explains.
While digital music sounds like you're listening to it in a tunnel, the frequency spectrum of analog sound is more open, he adds.
"I think there's a tangible-object appeal to it as well because the people who are buying records have always had an intangible, digital track," Boor notes.
The shoppers like being able to feel the product, enjoy the "cool artwork" and interact with the process of playing a record, he adds.
Just rock and blues, please
Boor sells mostly early rock and blues records. "The cream of the crop is psychedelic rock, garage rock, or rock 'n' roll," he adds.
His top sellers include The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac.
"All the top sellers of our time are top sellers for a reason," he notes. "I can't buy enough of that stuff used. We get it in, and it goes right back out the door as soon as we get it on the Internet."
You won't find much country music among Boor's inventory, unless it crosses over into a kind of rockabilly style. Classical music is also a hard sell; most of that genre is sold to buyers outside the United States to shoppers in China, Japan and Eastern Europe.
"Classical music in America is slowly dying," he notes. "The younger generations just aren't buying it."
He works hard for the money
While Boor doesn't have to do any marketing to encourage purchases, he does work tirelessly to find the right inventory. He frequents auctions and yard sales, posts flyers and Google AdWords, and uses social networking sites. But Yelp has proven to be his best source.
It's a tough process. To be a successful record seller, Boor has to look through hundreds of thousands of records. Most are "garbage," some are good enough to buy, and then there is that 1 percent rare find that raises his heart rate.
"I get really excited—probably too excited that I lose my poker face," he notes.
Over the years, Boor has found several obscure acetate records, a Mamas and Papas cover featuring the toilet seat, and as many as eight Beatles "butcher covers." His best find to date is an Elvis Presley acetate, and he's looking for a high-end memorabilia auction that can sell it for him.