Many believed vinyl was dead in the 1990s, but thanks in part to evolving retail formats like the new Crosley Cruiser, it is making a startling comeback.
Louisville-based Crosley Radio, which makes vintage-style turntables, jukeboxes, radios and other electronics, last month rolled out the Crosley Cruiser, a rolling record store that will not only sell vinyl but also bring a new branding niche. The company unveiled plans to build a record-pressing plant in Louisville in 2017.
The year 2015 was the 10th straight in which vinyl records sales increased, according to Forbes, including a 30 percent surge last year alone. Artists like Adele and Taylor Swift lead the charge with young music fans, but classic records of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s also are selling well on vinyl.
The mobile record store, named after a classic turntable model, was conceived by Crosley Director of Marketing Jason Menard. The Cruiser will feature records and electronics for sale and will include listening stations as well as a jukebox spinning music that can be heard outside the vehicle via a built-in PA. Artwork on the truck’s exterior is by Louisville artist Robby Davis, creator of the artwork at Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse.
The Crosley Cruiser will look like a brick-and-mortar record store, complete with glass doors. Album covers decorate the ceiling. Customers check out through a different door that exits the side of the mobile store.
The rolling retailery will make appearances at events like Abbey Road on the River and the Forecastle Festival, and will be available for private and corporate events.
“Our demographic has shifted from older consumers who grew up on vinyl,” Menard told InsiderLouisville.com. “It’s the 15-year-old girl who wants to buy a record player because it looks cool. The whole vinyl industry has seen a shift into this new generation.”
Crosley CEO Bo LeMastus said the Louisville-based company’s record-pressing plant opening in 2017 will use equipment purchased from an English company. Space is still being sought for the plant, which is needed because there are only a few such pressers in the U.S. today, and they currently can barely keep up with demand. The time is right to get back into the vinyl business, and Louisville will be one of the first in line.
“We started making turntables in the early ’90s, and people thought we were crazy,” Menard told InsiderLouisville.com. “The vinyl resurgence is a super fortunate thing for us. People are jumping on the bandwagon. We’re definitely not taking it for granted.”