While other kids his age sleep in during summer break, Blake Ressler, 15-year-old drummer for The Off Beats, wakes early, jumps on his bike, and pedals down to Disc Connection, a popular vinyl record shop in Parkland near Pacific Lutheran University. Blake is always on the lookout for vinyl by his favorite hardcore punk band, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, and he knows Disc Connection is the hot spot for finding them.
Technology has changed over the years, and the music industry is no exception. According to PewResearch.com in their music and video downloading report, roughly 36 million Americans – 27 percent of Internet users – download music or video files, and about half of them have found ways to swap their files outside of traditional peer-to-peer networks or paid online services. So where does that leave Disc Connection, a record store, in the day and age of digital music where iPods are king and listening to vinyl is about as ancient as swatting a T-rex with a club?
Proud Disc Connection owners Mark Blom and his daughter Danielle view their shop as a unique and rare commodity in the area, and they have poured a lot of time, energy and hard work into making it a successful venture for an appreciative public.
In 2008, Mark Blom was a hardworking, 24-year-old, full-time reserve Air Force master sergeant and aircraft inspector. He purchased Disc Connection from a friend. With the support of his family, he went right to work on renovations and the store was quickly opened.
“Vinyl has been around for many years and amazingly, it has outlasted tons of different formats. The record industry and record stores have taken a big hit because of the MP3 market. CD sales have dropped a lot over the years, so many stores have gone out of business,” Blom said.
Disc Connection has weathered many storms and has stood as a lighthouse in the community. It offers a vast collection of excellent and unique albums, making it a hot spot for collectors and those yearning for some musical nostalgia.
“We really push at our store to have records in stock that you won’t find anywhere else, those that haven’t been released on CD or MP3. This is a really niche market. A lot of people come to this store looking for that rare vinyl from the ’60s or that rock ‘n roll vinyl. There is definitely a market for it. Lately, college kids have really been into collecting vinyl, so they are in here a lot,” Blom said.
While he is out inspecting aircraft during the day, Blom leaves the management of his store in the capable hands of his daughter Danielle Blom, 21. Danielle’s dream has always been to work in a record store. For her, going to work is like taking a step back in history. Danielle knows her music and her job, and a lot of that experience and musical knowledge come from growing up around vinyl.
“Growing up with vinyl was amazing. When I was a kid, my parents would have record night. The whole family would sit around the Victrola or my dad’s stereo system and take turns picking out songs and records. I always picked out Jefferson Airplane because it was my favorite. Later, we even had a jukebox. Our parents introduced us to different kinds of music,” she fondly recalled.
When Danielle was told by her father that they were going to open a record store, she was instantly onboard to help however she could. “I was ecstatic when they told me they were taking over the shop. It was like a dream come true. I was more than willing to help them out. After all, growing up with vinyl and having that musical influence my whole life, who wouldn’t want to work in a place like this? All day I get to listen to new and old vinyl!” Danielle Blom said. While she manages the store, her father can still work his regular job, so Disc Connection is truly family owned and operated.
If you are on the search for ’60s and ’70s pop rock, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles or countless other bands and hits on vinyl and an assortment of old-school CDs, make a trip to Disc Connection as soon as you can, because often as soon as these albums hit the shelves, they are sold.
As for Ressler, he has learned the hard way that he will have to pedal a little faster, as the album he wanted was carried out the Disc Connection door in the hands of another enthusiast. However, he knows he can count on the store to provide the music he desires for a low price he can afford.
“I like to come to Disc Connection because they have a great selection of punk rock and heavy metal. The music here really influences my band. Sometimes I come here and find something, and other times I don’t find what I am looking for because it is sold already, but I buy here to help support local business. I have been coming here a least a year and a half,” he said.
When asked if he prefers vinyl, CDs or downloads, this very opinionated and unique musically inclined Washington High School freshman quickly answered as he rode off on his bike, “Oh, vinyl all the way! There’s nothing better than that.”
Disc Connection also buys good-condition vinyl that will be sure to fly off their shelves. If you are looking to grow your vinyl collection or to find some old-school CDs or Beatles memorabilia, stop by Disc Connection at 405 Garfield St. S. in Parkland or for more information, call (253) 539.5632.