Inquirer: Carlo Iaccarino
Written: March, 2019
This was, more or less, the way I became aware of the recent inauguration of
the 12 INCH RECORD STORE.
Here we are in Naples, Amedeo Sq.: near to metro and cable car stations, in a very busy zone. The store lies among a series of "shops" opened along a recently refurbished private alley, where now you can find not-exactly-mainstream business: a very refined men's tailor, an artisan jewelry maker, and so on. A further attraction of this alley: it starts with a very good wine shop and ends in front of a very traditional chocolate maker selling point :-P.
At walking distance, when I was young, you could find two of the more important record stores in the city, plus one of the major pushers of what were then called "import maxi-single", for the DJ market: all three nowadays long gone, after having been copiously financed by me (and other foolish people) ;-) Those sweet memories immediately pushed me towards deeper investigations.
Let's immediately clarify that this store is selling only used records.
It's a precise choice made by the two owners, Raffaele and Carlo Manna, hereafter pictured in their entrance hall.
Raffaele and Carlo are cousins and both love music: they started buying records in their childhood. So, they ended up with a quite big collection of vinyl records, that brought to light the idea to start selling some of their pieces, at least to make room for the new arrivals. After little initial occasional exchanges, they developed a more structured selling activity, that was carried on while attending to the "real work" both of them have, so they registered on the DiscoGS website and used also other communication means.
Then, their collection grew up so much (18.000 records...) that they had the need for more storage. Hence, the idea: if we have to pay the rent for a storage room, why don't we pay for something that is not only a "bigger record repository box", but, rather, a place where we can have a real contact with people, to move our commercial relationships from the virtual domain into the real one, to socialize, not to be social?
Enter the new place. From the street, you have access to the first hall,
where you can find the main listening console.
Let me try to heal your audiophile shock :-) by pointing you to the loudspeakers, by region-based and world-famous Eventus Audio.
Then you move on to another room, filled with records bins, and, at last, into the final room, where you find even more records, plus a corner with a sofa and a "vintage" stereo system,
where you can comfortably listen to the selected records via headphones.
The Manna boys are thinking to use the shop also to host theme-based events, like, for instance, pre-dinner meetings, or wine-music pairing tastings (the wine shop at next door is held by a very competent sommelier), music-themed book launches, and so on. In the final room they could even provide headphone listening via sample gear (can amps, phono stages, you name it...) temporarily left by hi-fi producers willing to promote their brand. This is a good idea, for me - based on the last Munich shows I attended, to me, personal listening is the only audio market that is gaining real success.
The two Mannas want to exchange pieces in their collection, they don't want
to become resellers of record companies - they know they cannot compete with
those companies' own distribution and reselling forces. They think there's a
commercial place for them, too - they think that there is no other record
store like theirs, in southern Italy.
According to Raffaele, the 12-inch market has re-gained popularity amongst professional DJs - those same record spinners that joyously transmigrated aboard the digital boat... Moreover, you can't always find digital files of all the many special versions usually found on a single 12-inch record.
Raffaele told me this while speaking about 12-inch records devoted to the DJ market, but the idea works for Jazz and Rock, too..
Sure, this is a topic in which the audiophile TNT readers may not be
interested - although I invite you not to disregard all that is produced to
make youngsters dance, especially if we're talking of records from 30 or 40
years ago ;-)
Yet, 12 inch is also selling lots of records of Jazz and Rock music, a genre certainly more appreciated by our readers. Moreover - who knows? - a young man "exposes" himself to vinyl for his gigs behind a console and may perceive an actual difference in quality between analogue and digital music, and maybe sometimes he takes a seat in the shop's final room and listens to his first Jazz LP - that Carlo suggested to him - and thinks that, eventually, on his record spinner at home he could try and mount also a cartridge not suited for the backcueing... I know, I'm running too far ahead :-)
Francesco will sell you only vinyl: the beers are there for himself... and his friends ;-)
So, if you happen to visit Naples' historical centre, and you like Soul music, come to Francesco's: you could find yourself sipping a beer with other music lovers, or listening to an impromptu jam session, or DJ set... and eventually indulging yourself in the guilty pleasure of vinyl shopping ;-)
Anyway, I think that we all may be interested in knowing that in Naples
there are again "record stores", where we can again think of
spending some time, taking a pause in our hectic life, and flip through the
bins to find (or meet again) a record to bring home, maybe even meeting
someone else that is also passing by to take a breath... Sure, there's a
strong nostalgic feeling, and, maybe, the risk of pandering to music taste
stagnation. But, eventually, instead of
gathering with our friends in the loud and crowded central pubs, we could
meet at Carlo and Raffaele's, or we could organize periodical listening
meetings at Francesco's ... in any case, it's just a matter of reaching an
agreement with them ;-)
And maybe we can finally find that special record that we were searching for when we were in our twenties and then forgot because something else got our attention... - one more confession: I did it ;-)
© Copyright 2019 Carlo Iaccarino - www.tnt-audio.com