Vinyls aren't dead - this S'porean invested $40k in her retail shop to prove it's a sound purchase

Vinyls aren't dead - this S'porean invested $40k in her retail shop to prove it's a sound purchase
PHOTO: Cherilyn Tan

I don't have any personal experience with vinyls, but they've always held a special interest for me.

I think of them with nostalgia, of the good ol' days when life was simpler, and Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra crooned sensual melodies to dance languidly by.

To many, vinyls might seem a thing of the past.

However, there is actually a growing local community who are reviving this old-time art.

Amongst them is one woman who wishes to bond all the kakis of this community - this is her love story.

A Vinyl Family

Cherilyn Tan is the founder of Vinyl Kakis, the newest member of the blooming vinyl retail community. Unlike long-time lovers, Cherilyn is young in the scene but reveals that vinyls hold an intimate spot in her heart.

"My husband proposed to me with his much treasured, rare vinyl record," she reveals.

"At that time, I did not give it much thought but since running Vinyl Kakis, I appreciate his love even more when he shared all his collection with me."

Now, she describes the attraction to vinyls as "magnetic".

"Music is played out in many forms […] songs from a vinyl record brings out a certain of level of warmth and depth."

"Acquiring a piece of vinyl is an art. One looks at the sleeve, playlist or inner liner sheet and determines if [they want it]."

"For the more discerning, they would consider the record label, year, obi strip etc. I believe every music lover goes through a different life stage, and their music palate will definitely change."

Her passion for vinyls led her to invest $40,000 to set up Vinyl Kakis with her family for a team.

"Giving up my job was not easy but we have a consensus to live within our means. Since our opening, we have also grown closer as a family unit and everyone has been supportive."

"My eldest, Vanessa, contributed her artistic flair to our first tote bag. My middle, Isaac, pitches in with the manual tasks and the youngest, Melody entertains the customers' children with her toys," she laughs.

While she doesn't have any music credentials or experience, Cherilyn considers this an advantage.

"As a vinyl curator, it's better not to have any bias. I rely on my good 'ol days of listening to the radio, and watch YouTube to supplement my list."

In this tight-knit community, Cherilyn also learns from other kakis as well as social media.

Every Vinyl Deserves Its Day

"Being an independent store, the owner can have a greater say in the shop's direction and character. To this day, we are still changing our look-and-feel."

Meanwhile, the team also ensures all vinyls get a 'makeover'.

"We run them through Nessie (their cleaning machine) before putting on new inner sleeves and showcasing them on social media."

Despite being the youngest player in a niche industry, Cherilyn does not feel the strain.

"Healthy competition results in a win-win situation. Business owners are kept on their toes and customers will benefit with more informed choices through better education." They would also be able to appreciate vinyls at affordable prices.

"Whenever I experience exceptional and genuine customer service locally or abroad, I [also] want to recreate the experience for my kakis."

Vinyls For Everyone

Vinyls have traditionally enjoyed a male audience, perhaps due to their technical nature and therefore closer relation to the male gender, Cherilyn says, but that is changing.

"For true blue lady vinyl junkies, record shopping ranks #1. I know because I am a recent convert too. There is something sexy about a woman when she gasps, squeals and pounces in excitement when she spots a vinyl record store."

We want to encourage the next generation to love vinyls, Cherilyn says.

"Vinyl Kakis will be run by kakis, where collectors, aficionados, and newbies can share and collaborate. Vinyl Kakis will be run by kakis, where they will curate and welcome all music kakis to gather and chit-chat at Vinyl Kakis."

"[We] will keep honing our niche offerings to give vinyl lovers a wide range of genres to appreciate. Everyone is entitled to their tastes and no genre of music will be placed under discrimination."

Vinyl Kakis

5 Coleman St, Excelsior Shopping Centre

#B1-28, Singapore 179805

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