PORT TOWNSEND — After 45 years and four locations, Quimper Sound is going strong. There’s a resurgence in vinyl album sales once again.
But Mark Hering, who has owned the shop for the past 11 years with his wife, Marie Campanoli, is looking to retire, take a vacation and move on to other opportunities.
They’ve put the place up for sale. Along with classic posters and collectible items, there’s an inventory of more than 50,000 albums in all genres up for grabs. It’s all going for $40,000.
Quimper Sound is located in the Undertown Shops, only the fourth business location for the store. It’s gone from one side of Water Street to the other, moving the equivalent of about a block during its 45 years.
“The record store began in 1974 where the Belmont restaurant is, next to the Imprint Bookshop back then,” Hering said. “It was there a year, then moved to the corner of Taylor and Water streets, where the Northwest Man is now for probably 33 years.
“It then moved to the First National Bank building for six years on Tyler and then Undertown for five. This place has played a big role in many people’s lives.”
Hering was born in Port Townsend and lived on Water Street as a child.
“My parents owned a pub and my father got me interested in music. I started playing guitar at 6, and have been playing my whole life. I had always been a big fan of the store and when former owner Steve Wilmart sent out an email to customers saying he was going to sell the store, I started to think about it.
“We had just sold a piece of property and I had been talking about quitting my job. My wife and daughter said why don’t you just buy the record store.”
Hering said this was a big leap of faith.
“I had never worked retail or never worked in a restaurant. I worked on fishing boats and in warehouses. I did production work. So I wasn’t sure if I was the right person for it. They talked me into it by saying I’d get to listen to music all day long.
“Before I knew it, I was signing papers and buying a record store.”
Throughout 11 years, the music industry has changed. In the early days, 95 percent of his inventory was CDs.
“Eight years ago there was a buzz and customers brought in articles from newspapers about a vinyl resurgence that was happening. So we started buying used collections and new vinyl and continued to carry CDs,” he said.
When he moved to the Undertown location 5 years ago, Hering decided to reinvent the Quimper Sound and envision what an old record store should look like. He had three racks of CDs, the rest vinyl. However, a flood in the store destroyed his CD racks and he couldn’t replace them.
“We are pretty much all vinyl now. A lot of the chain stores are getting out of the CD business, too.
“Vinyl has become a big part of the culture today. I see it in commercials, in movies. Most all the new releases are coming out on vinyl now, some of them aren’t even coming out on CD. There has been a switch and it’s huge.
“The fidelity with vinyl is a lot nicer than CDs. There’s something about that analog sound, that richness that gives people a greater appreciation of music than with most digital sources. I have a different appreciation for the artist and for the music.”
Jessica Foster, who lives in Austin but grew up in Port Townsend, was back in town for a visit with her boyfriend. A priority stop was Quimper Sound, the record store where she was once a customer.
“I wasn’t allowed to listen to music when I was a kid,” Foster said. “When I started working at the Upstage at 14 busing and doing dishes, I remember getting my first paycheck and saying I can finally go buy my own records.
“I bought Waterfront Pizza and spent the rest of my check on four records: Shins, Pearl Jam, NWA and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, their first album. That was 13 years ago.
“I didn’t get a bag to carry them in because I was so proud to have vinyl tucked under my arm.”
Prospective buyers can contact Hering at 360-385-2454.
Hering said he isn’t sure what he wants to do next, but he knows he’ll be a regular customer.
“There will always be music,” he said.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]