EASTHAMPTON — Five decades ago, when David Witthaus was 15, he would hang out at his local record store in New York. But one Friday, the owner kicked him out there of the store right at 5 p. m.
Witthaus was perplexed, asking why. The owner told him that he couldn’t find anybody to work at that time, so Witthaus came up with the answer on the particular spot: “Hire me. ” It was Witthaus’ first job in a record store — he lied and said he was 16 so that he could take the gig — and he hasn’t looked back since.
Now the owner of his own record store, Platterpus Records in Easthampton, Witthaus, 65, has seen the record business evolve over many years. He purchased the several year-old business on Sept. 1, 1982, meaning that this year marks 40 years since Platterpus Records first opened its doors in Westfield. The building has been located within Easthampton at 28 Cottage St . for the past 12 many years.
“I don’t really feel like I’ve ever gone to work, ” he joked on a recent afternoon, sitting at his usual perch behind the store’s front counter. Stacks of records, cassette tapes and CDs sat around him.
Platterpus is the particular only shop of its kind in Easthampton, holding a prime spot downtown. Witthaus said that he’s happy to be in the city, where business is bustling.
“There’s a lot of people coming down here, ” he stated. “Now we just have to figure out where to put the cars. ”
Over the yrs, the report business has changed significantly. Gone are the days when new releases drove crowds to their local record shop to buy brand new information. These days, Platterpus deals exclusively with used records, mostly selling classic rock but with a substantial vinyl collection of everything from jazz in order to the blues.
Asked why the vinyl record has had such staying power, Witthaus declared that “playing a record is an event. ” To play one, somebody has to put it on the particular turntable plus flip it after close to 20 minutes. They can’t dance or the record will skip, but they can hear the rich sounds those records contain and experience the richly decorated packaging — an artform that has been lost in the age of streaming, this individual said.
Listening to other mediums like CDs, Witthaus said, just isn’t the same. It feels like background music instead of the main occasion, he mentioned.
“I’m not really listening” when the CD is on, he or she said. “It’s just there because quiet is awkward. ”
Those walking into Platterpus during a recent visit were greeted in the front with rock and roll classics through artists such as Neil Young, Steely Dan and Dire Straits. The particular walls are usually covered inside posters lionizing similar artists, from Pink Floyd in order to Tom Waits.
Those posters were once a big part associated with Witthaus’ company. Before coming to Easthampton but after moving out of Westfield, he spent two years in the Hampshire Mall — a good experience this individual describes as his “bridge years. ” Because of his proximity to nearby colleges, he or she sold a lot associated with posters and band T-shirts.
Witthaus prefers selling music, and that’s most of what he does now. He certainly offers their own musical tastes — he loves blues songs, he said, and has no interest in learning about completely new music emerging on the particular scene. But he stated he hates record stores that push certain kinds of music on their customers.
“It’s not my job to tell people what in order to listen to, ” he mentioned.
Nobody has ever become wealthy running an independent report store, Witthaus said. Yet he has had his share of big sales over the years, from the incredible punk collection somebody in town as soon as sold him to the bizarre records he never realized would make so much money.
In one instance, an older woman sold Witthaus 10 boxes of her mother’s old records, the majority of which he didn’t care for. They sat on the particular floor of the store for a long time until one day, he decided to play one that had the white jacket with no label on it whatsoever. It experienced a booklet from an art exhibit in it, but this individual didn’t recognize the sounds coming from the turntable: two individuals talking to each other.
So Witthaus threw the record online plus didn’t check his auction until right before bidding closed on the record, which sold with regard to $895. It turned out that the recording was a good interview with the legendary artist Andy Warhol, and was only given out on that museum’s opening day.
It is those kinds of stories, and the thrill of offering something new to customers, that keeps Witthaus working. He said that when he starts to feel irrelevant or starts to dislike the job, he’ll decide to quit. But now, he has no such plans. He is going to continue selling popular records to people who come in looking for great music.
“That’s the business, ” he said.
Dusty Christensen can be reached at [email protected] com.