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Bakelite gives vinyl fans one more reason to visit Superior

Scott Johnson, owner of Northwoods Music, looks over some of the records that are now for sale in the store on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 25, 2014, in Superior. (Jed Carlson /

Superior's oasis of vinyl has gotten bigger. Northwoods Music recently began selling 45s, LPs and even 78s made of Bakelite, an early plastic. The stacks include musical genres stretching from big band to rock, jazz, folk and comedy albums. The move caters to a new resurgence of interest in vinyl and adds another musical note to the shop.

"It was a really nice marriage with what we already had," shop owner Scott Johnson said.

Launching Vintage Vinyl barely a block away from Superior's other record store, Vinyl Cave, isn't a competitive move. It's a chance to create synergy.

"For vinyl fans, this is a crazy opportunity" to browse two shops in one visit, Johnson said.

Tom Unterberger, co-owner of Vinyl Cave, agreed.

"It gives people another reason to come across the bridge," he said. Vinyl hunters often travel up to Superior from the Twin Cities, Unterberger said. They can spend hours browsing through the stacks. Adding Vintage Vinyl gives them another shopping option within walking distance.

"Between the two places, they can spend all day," Unterberger said.

There is a sea of untapped vinyl out there, Johnson found. He put an ad in the paper seeking records.

"I bought 2,500 records in eight days," he said, and had to turn away larger collections.

But interest in collecting the discs is also keen.

"There seems to be a nice marriage of people who don't want them anymore and people who want them again," Johnson said. "So it makes for an interesting market for us."

The records have been on the shop floor for about a week, and they've stopped some customers in their tracks.

"It's really fun to watch people discover it and start looking through the bins," Johnson said.

"John Denver's Greatest Hits" peeked out from one rack Tuesday; a bright Led Zeppelin cover was found in another. Soundtracks from "Dr. Zhivago," "Lady Sings the Blues" and "Goldfinger" were available. The record collection is split in two, with crooners, easy listening and orchestra items in a front corner, rock, pop, folk and movies in the music store's central hub. Vintage Vinyl will stock up to 4,000 discs, Johnson said, with new ones rotated in daily. Record fans can buy new and re-furbished vintage turntables at the store, as well.

The new record inventory will be buy-sell-trade, just like the instrument selection, which recently expanded to include Washburn guitars and Marshall amplifiers.

Johnson has been using these cold winter weekends to repaint and renovate the store. A new family room provides a quiet haven for families to wait during lessons. Brighter lighting and darker walls have also been added.


To show off its new look, and its record trove, Northwoods Music will host a free open house noon to 4 p.m. March 15 at 1606 Tower Ave. Everyone is invited to enjoy live music and food, put their name in the hat for a free turntable and browse the new vinyl. People can also stop by the store during business hours, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.