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Vinyl Frontier: Amherst’s The Infectious Groove is a music lover’s spin city

AMHERST – Vinyl devoteees rejoice.

The Infectious Groove, 76 NH Route 101-A, stocks more than 6,000 new and used records and endless shelves of CDs, as well as turntables, receivers and speakers.

Owners Richie Thorn and Tina McCarthy opened the store a year ago, and quickly managed to find an audience of audiophiles during the pandemic.

“Last year was actually really good for us,” Thorn said. “What we’re finding is that a lot of families are digging out their old albums in their attics. With nothing to do at home, it’s really been good for us.”

In addition to what’s on display and in racks, Thorn estimates that they have another 2,000 albums in the back storeroom.

“We haven’t even gotten to them yet,” he said. “Every single one of them, we go through and thoroughly clean. New stuff we just put out.”

When they first started, they had fewer racks and since then, they’ve expanded with another nine racks of vinyl bins. The Infectious Groove also buys back albums and CDs, though not as much as the latter.

“Compact discs are on the down swing,” Thorn said. “When people don’t have access to something, that’s when they want it more.

And that’s what’s happening with CDs right now. It’s the same thing that happened with albums back in the early 2000’s. You could go to a yard sale and people would sell you an entire box of records for $10.”

Now, Thorn said, some of those same records are valued at $30 – $40.

“People will come in and some people will just give us their CDs because they don’t think they’re worth anything,” he said. “I tell people to hold onto them because it’s going to be the same thing. I think the person who is collecting whatever they’re collecting is going to stick to that format.”

Sometimes consumers will buy the album and the same CD of that artist, because they don’t want to wear out the album by playing it.

“The versatility of bringing a CD into a car is practically gone,” Thorn said. “Automakers now don’t even make CD players for cars. It’s all USB ports.”

Thorn and McCartney have no doubt in their minds that this is a welcome throwback for a lot of audio fanatics.

“We have people who walk through the door in their ’40s and ’50s who say, ‘Wow, do I remember this,'” Thorn said. “It’s like they’re going back to their teenage years.”

For Thorn, as a teenager, he always fooled around with deejaying and vinyl.

“I listen to a lot of obscure stuff myself,” he said. “A lot of punk and a lot of alternative. And every once in a while, I’ll find a used copy of something that comes in here and I’ll be like, ‘Wow. I haven’t seen this in years.’ You can’t even get a particular album because the record companies haven’t re-pressed it.”

There are no record stores like The Infectious Groove in Nashua; collectors have to travel around to other cities or even Boston to truly find what they’re looking for.

Thorn said people who bring their old albums into The Infectious Groove are also there to look around and shop a bit.

“We get people in here a lot who want to trade as opposed to sell,” he said.

“We’ll give more money for a trade than we will for a sale.”

Buyers can get their money on a gift certificate with a trade and spend that credit immediately or over a period of time.

The Infectious Groove also sells hard-to-find turntables, which fall into a lower mid-to-high level range.

“Since we opened, I wanted to be able to offer what a true audiophile wants to listen to,” Thorn said. “You find that people who listen to music don’t necessarily want the whole surround sound. They’re basically looking for two to four speakers and listen to their music in that setting.”

When he first started bringing used stereo equipment into the store, it was mostly older stereos, known as “silver-face stereos,” produced in Japan in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

“The Japanese stuff is still very solid,” Thorn said. “They last.”

The Infectious Groove has a contract with U-Turn Audio in Woburn, Massachusetts. They make strictly turntables.

“We had a bunch in here for Christmas,” Thorn said. “We sold them all. We had twelve and sold right out of them and haven’t been able to get them in here since.”

U-Turn makes their turntables from scratch, and the plinth on the turntable is solid wood.

“They use very high-end needles,” Thorn said. “The turntables run from $279 to $600. They’re mid-range to high end.”

The Infectious Groove can special order records through one of their four distributors.

Additionally, The Infectious Groove has partnered with local breweries over the past several months to spin and sell records at the breweries’ tastings.

“Last fall, we teamed up with a few breweries,” Thorn said. “We have a friend who owns Oak and Iron Brewery in Andover, Massachusetts. That was one of our better gigs that we did. It was an outside thing, where we sold vinyl from the store while I was deejaying. We sold a lot.”

The Infectious Groove has also done “gigs” with Able Ebenezer Brewing Company.

For more information, call The Infectious Groove at (603) 718-0109 or contact them at infectious.groove.nh@gmail.com.

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