By LEAH ASTORE
Vinyl is alive and thriving in Plymouth, Mass. and the man keeping the records spinning is the owner of Better Times Emporium Steve Davoli.
Back before iTunes, CDs, and even eight-tracks, vinyl records brought music to the masses in its rawest form. Now Davoli is finding people are once again craving the classic sound of vintage records. Surprisingly, the majority of his record-buying customers were born after the CD began its rise to the top.
“I think it’s all just new to them or their parents or grandparents gave them a record player,” Davoli said. “They love the covers, the sound – it’s more pure; even sometimes you’ll get that little scratch when you play them and that’s that whole part of [records] that people really like.”
The most popular records – not surprisingly – include legends such as The Beatles, The Kinks, and Led Zeppelin.
Over the course of two years, the Better Times Emporium inventory has moved from a small one floor storefront to a three-floor building with one floor dedicated entirely to records, 45s, eight-tracks, and record players. What started with one small box of records has become his most popular item drawing young, old, local, and non-local customers.
“People that come in from other countries will go up and start walking through them and they’ll pick up American records and take them back [home] with them,” he said.
Customers have even traveled from out-of-state to find beloved musical relics.
“It seems to be a big thing and there’s people that will come in and are surprised that I have them,” he said.
Davoli’s journey back in time began in much the same fashion. At 22 years-old, his cross country road-trip from his hometown in Medford, Mass., to sunny California surprisingly became a permanent visit. Soon after, he found himself immersed in local antique shows. He began by collecting vintage Coca-Cola items – the first in his collection was a Coca-Cola dispensing machine that is now a permanent working fixture at Better Times.
Over the course of 26 years, what started as a personal collection eventually became big enough for Davoli to start an antiques booth and soon after a co-op. When he moved from California to Lakeville in 2002 he found work as a carpenter, but the work was unfulfilling for him – what he dreamed of doing was opening his own antique store.
“This is something I always wanted to do – have my own store,” Davoli said. “And have a space where you can come in and feel like you just went back in time.”
Perhaps that’s why he surrounds himself with the artifacts of what he believes were truly better times.
“I’m stuck in the past. I wish I was born sooner and could’ve been around all that,” Davoli said.
His store aims to recreate this feeling for all who remember it or simply want to learn more about what the 50s and 60s were like.
“The look of it, the sounds – everything was simpler, cheaper. That’s what appealed to me and that’s what I wanted to try to recreate to a certain extent,” Davoli said of his store.
He hopes that it can be a place for everyone to come and relive the good ol’ days and the golden age of music.
“The biggest thing for a lot of especially the older people – my age or older – is they get reminded of the past and just all the things that were part of when they were younger and it was fun and that’s what I want to try and convey,” he said.