An Audiophile’s Paradise
How Ed Parks turned an obsession into a business
Sometimes Ed Parks must feel like a museum curator. It is not unusual for folks to walk into his place of business, spend an hour or so admiring his inventory, and walk out without making a purchase. Naturally, he would rather sell them something, but he has no qualms about letting them browse to their hearts’ content.
“I get a lot of gawkers come in and I try to amuse them, knowing they have no interest in buying anything,” says the congenial businessman. “Guys our age [50-ish and up] are familiar with most of this stuff, but some of the kids don’t have a clue what some of it is.”
But, purchasing power aside, what both age groups will do is spread the word, and, as Parks knows, word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising. And, in the 14 months that he has been open, word has definitely gotten around.
Tucked in a 1,400- square foot former print shop beneath a strip center on Main Street in Jamestown, with no storefront exposure, Parks’s Vintage Audio Exchange has made a name for itself among not only audiophiles like himself, but collectors, turntable and vinyl purists, gearheads, musicians and electronics geeks. His massive inventory includes turntables and speakers (which he also repairs), amps (power, pre, guitar, tube, PA, integrated, etc.), equalizers, receivers, tape players (cassette, eight-track, reel-to-reel), microphones, antique radios (console and tabletop), jukeboxes, artwork and posters. Oh, and that doesn’t include the rows upon rows of categorized albums or the 12,000 45s.
“My last purchase was 170 boxes of albums (25,000 in all),” he notes, almost apologetically. “I use them mainly to drive traffic in here.”
Being a vintage, hands-on person by nature, Parks nonetheless has joined the global technological market. He contracted a top-notch web designer to build his website and is doing a growing percentage of his business through e-commerce. Currently he is in the process of photographing and categorizing each of his hundreds of products, a daunting task, to say the least.
“I still plan to have a storefront and do repairs and take consignments,” he explains, “but you’ve got to go with the times,” adding, “We’ve made sales to people all over the U.S. and as far away as Malaysia. I just sold a gold-plated cassette deck to a guy for $5,000.”
At the other end of the spectrum, if you want to buy a shiny, black vinyl Buddy Holly album, Ed Parks will sell you that, too. OH
Vintage Audio Exchange is located at 702-F West Main Street, Jamestown.
(336) 848-5330, firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Ogi Overman