Des Moines' Vinyl Record Resurgence - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Des Moines' Vinyl Record Resurgence

By: Jason Rantala


A nearly 150-year-old technology has made a surprising comeback, in the digital age, no less. 

It might be hard to spot along Ingersoll Avenue in Des Moines, but inside Zzz Records, a century-and-a-half old technology lives on.

"That's the main reason I opened this shop was because there just wasn't anyone here in town, in Des Moines, who was just concentrating on vinyl," said Nate Niceswanger, owner of Zzz.

Niceswanger opened Zzz back in 2000, back when vinyl was out, and CDs were in.

Even as late as 2007, he says his store was half and half: Half vinyl, half CDs.

"All of a sudden that relationship just changed very very quickly," said Niceswanger.

Now he carries 10,000 records at all times. They consume 90 percent of his store.

It's all in response to a resurgance in consumer demand to music played on a now ancient device.

But why vinyl, especially in an age of digital convience, when songs can be purchased with the click of a mouse?

"I think one of the biggest ironies of this is that this is a technology that dates back to the 1800s and it's still going strong," said Niceswanger.

Some say it's the cover art.

Some say it's in the process, having to go the turntable and flip the record over, rather than just hit shuffle on an iPod.

Many say records just sound better, and can produce a wider range of sound frequencies.

Serious music listeners say there are just some things you wont find on CD, or iTunes for that matter, like a special Return of the Jedi soundtrack.

The big difference Niceswanger has seen is current artists releasing new music on the format, artists like the Black Keys, Adele and many others.

Zzz used to have to go to estate sales and auctions to get their music. Nowadays, people stop by everyday trying to sell their records.

"Nothing makes me happier than seeing a 20-year-old person come up to the counter and they've got a Billie Holliday record and a Green Day record at the same time," said Niceswanger. 

Niceswanger says they've started to actually see competition from big box stores like Best Buy and online stores like Amazon, who sell vinyl records.

He says he has no idea if independent stores like his will be able to keep up. 

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