Vinyl makes its way back in Brantford

During the past year, Brantford has had many new businesses open close to campus. Luckily, as a student, experiencing new things is a treat. Brantford is potentially a small city compared to where most of us have grown up, and therefore the limited places to hang out are an issue. As a music enthusiast, my first two years at Laurier didn’t include a place where I could share my interests until this year, when casually walking to Tim Horton’s, Forch’s Record Store caught my eye.   

Forch’s Record Store, located at 59 Dalhousie Street, is the second location for Paul “Forch” Fortune. With his main store in Cambridge being a success, Forch decided to try his luck in Brantford. Walking into the store gives a nice retro feel right off the bat. Records on the left are labeled by genre in crates leading all the way to the back, and the walls are covered with vinyl sleeves of modern and even vintage music. Forch’s also includes CDs and cassettes. The collection includes a large range of genres across a large expanse of time in music history. But what really caught my eye, and what I haven’t seen in many record stores, are the vintage music magazines for sale. Two big crates of magazines filled with The Rolling Stones, Exclaim! and Kerrang.  

But, coming from Cambridge, which is much bigger than Brantford, there are differences in audiences and population coming into the store.  

“To me record stores belong in a ‘downtown’ core amongst independent and unique retail, food, etc.  I was very intrigued and excited with the revitalization of Brantford’s downtown core and saw a fit for the unique music buying experience offered at Forch’s Record Store,” said Forch.   

This opens a greater audience in Brantford: a place where students and locals can go and enjoy music together. Once a month Forch’s has an artist perform in the store. People are encouraged to go out, enjoy and listen to some new tunes. There are giveaways, prizes, vinyl features and add-ins to do as well, allowing more opportunities to bind the community together.  

“Live music in-store really supports the vibe we’re going for…a place to come and browse, take your time, feel comfortable in a space that you can really appreciate music and the next best thing to vinyl is live music. An introduction to live music or an artist hopefully garners further support for that artist(s) in other venues,” said Forch.  

As most people who follow trends in media can vouch for, there has been a significant shift in our culture where people are bringing back nostalgic objects and trends that were once popular a decade ago. A big example of that in our culture would be music. From collectors to artists, people are bringing back tunes and sounds to create an ambiance of the past, and Forch sees that as well.  

“It’s amazing to see the appreciation of the younger generations for tangible items as well as the music itself…and physically involved in and enjoying the buying experience,” said Forch.  

On Facebook there are many groups that you can join to be a part of a vintage vinyl collectors’ group. Usually those groups are filled with older men or women trying to find the best deals. This can be intimidating for younger people, feeling left out or as though they may not be as knowledgeable about music to participate in the discussion. Forch allows anyone to come in and ask questions, regardless of whether they know a lot or just a little about music.  

“[I am] very much driven by chatting with customers and getting an idea of what they like and/or where they might like to explore.  One of the reasons for diverse music loving staff so we can introduce each other and customers to great music in all genres and eras,” said Forch.  

Along with the members of the younger generations being involved with vinyl collecting or purchasing, many of them will be attending Laurier in the future. Allowing new opportunities to arise and to be given easy access to music can further enhance students’ interests in different genres or different platforms. 

“I think that a campus is a really cool place to open a record store. It might bring more people out to further engage with the community and will give students the opportunity to meet new people that have similar interests, where they otherwise would not have met these potential acquaintances…it would inspire more discussion about culture apart from the academic setting,” said Kaitlyn Stewart, a third-year social work student.  

Forch feels strongly about the rise of vinyl again and thinks it creates a great opportunity for everyone to share their love of music. 

“A large part of the vinyl resurgence is driven by music lovers wanting more for their money – something tangible, better sound, taking the time to appreciate and enjoy, and ensuring musicians get their fair share…Vinyl without questions offers the best sound, but the experience of playing vinyl and sitting down and listening to it allows the listener to get more from the music and the experience…to say the least of the cool added features that come with covers and sleeves artwork, lyrics, etc.,” said Forch.   

“To ‘plug’ the store, we offer a great selection of genres and artists, both independent and mainstream. As an independent we have great leeway to bring in a variety of artists, offer the service of ordering things we may not have and very importantly not only competitive but fairly and best priced in the market. From a vinyl enjoyment perspective, a variety of system options to choose from for great sound and accessories to keep them in their best condition. We’re happy to walk anyone through options,” said Forch.  

If you are unsure of how to take care of a vinyl, Forch and his staff would be able to assist you and your music needs. There are endless opportunities for one to explore in a record store and to discover new music and cultures. 

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