ROGERS PARK — Audiophile John Arnsdorff, the owner of a soon-to-open record and vintage audio electronics store on Devon Avenue, said he's on the cusp of an audio and musical revolution.
Step aside iTunes and Spotify, he says, vinyl's making a comeback.
"I've been really amazed in the last, I'd say, four or five years how much vinyl has" risen in popularity, said the 43-year-old collector and former retail manager, who plans to open his store, Audio Archaeology, in March.
He said he's no purist — there's a time and place for digital music — but the sound of Miles Davis from his German-made 1964 Telefunken turntable console has always been an experience unmatched by other audio players.
"I also think that with digital music, we've gotten so away from music being tactile — you pick up the record, you put it on the right song, you flip it over," he said. "We went all the way to the tiniest little speakers, the tiniest little amplifiers, and now it's going back to a different kind of sound before that."
Arnsdorff, of West Rogers Park, has moved most of his collection of records, vintage turntables, amplifiers, speakers and TVs into the new store space at 1324 W. Devon Ave.
He said he's been collecting things his whole life, scouring estate sales, flea markets and the Internet.
"I spent a lot of time at my grandmother's house when I was little," he said, over the quiet melody of a Herb Alpert vinyl spinning in the player behind him. "She just had, I mean, rooms full of German bisque antique dolls, and s--- everywhere. But everything had kind of a story. ... I was always drawn to things that have a story behind them."
After years of managing stores for retail chains like Bed Bath & Beyond and Carson's, he said he decided to pursue his passion for vintage audio.
Working in retail "taught me a lot about business, but I just loved the idea of doing something for myself and not working for something corporate," he said.
He said he also plans to sell '50s and '60s "bar ware" alongside vintage Zenith and BIC turntables and other "archaic technology."
But he'd sell new vinyl records and modern players, too, he said.
"Something that's vintage isn't for everybody — it's like an old car," he said. "You're probably going to have to tinker with it and you're going to have to figure out its quirks."
He's also hopeful the little strip of Devon Avenue — west of Sheridan Road and east of Clark Street — is primed for "a little resurgence."
"I really hope [my store] becomes a good neighborhood place," he said.
The grand opening of the store, which will be open Wednesdays through Sundays, is scheduled for March 15.