By Parker Reed
Eau Claire music lovers finally have a place to discover new music, meet new people, and feed their desire for all things vinyl
thanks to one small business owner.
“The first time I stepped into the original Revival Records,” Ryan Miller says, “I noticed something very out of the ordinary compared to most of the other record stores I had been to in my lifetime. The stereotypical snooty know it all music store owner was nowhere to be found.”
Billy Siegel, owner of the Eau Claire area record store, Revival Records on Barstow Street, has been putting everything into his business ever since opening his original store on Clairemont Avenue in Eau Claire in 2009. After moving to bigger locations in both 2010 and 2014, Siegel’s love for all things music grew along with it.
“The experience of playing vinyl, the nostalgia of the whole process of playing records, and the overall experience isn’t comparable to any other format of listening to music,” Siegel says.
Revival Records employee, Mariah Kewin, says Siegel had a passion for music even before opening a record store. She says he knew about the things he was selling.
“He knows everything about classic pop/rock,” Kewin says. “It’s amazing how much knowledge he has about music.”
In 2009 when Siegel opened the original Revival Records location, vinyl record sales were almost nonexistent. Digital music sites such as Itunes, dominated the retail music industry. Even CD sales dwarfed vinyl record sales, and it appeared as though the vinyl record format was dead in mainstream America. But, even though the possibility Eau Claire could sustain a record store was small, Siegel didn’t give up hope when he signed his first lease.
“I just wanted to do something that I love,” Billy says. “I knew it would make a comeback someday. I just didn’t know it would come this far this fast.”
Before opening Revival Records, Siegel worked for businesses such as Scheels All Sports, all while considering opening up a record store to pursue something he truly loves. Siegel’s favorite group is Pearl Jam, and they are a staple of his personal record collection. But, when he opened up Revival Records he immediately started putting his customer’s record interests, wants, and needs before his own.
“People look at the store as theirs,” Siegel says. “That just warms my heart. Everything I do is for the customer.”
Ever since Siegel sold his first record (an Aerosmith album), customers who frequent the store are greeted by low prices, quality used vinyl records, and signed band memorabilia that adorn the walls. But, running a small business (especially a record store), isn’t always easy, according to Siegel.
“I was worried there that there wouldn’t be enough foot traffic when I first opened,” Siegel said. “I thought I would have to do most of my business online. And due to supply and demand, keeping records in stock, both new and used is difficult.”
But, the negatives of running Revival Records are far outweighed by the positives, according to Siegel. The best part about Revival Records, is getting to make and keep relationships with a variety of amazing and interesting people. Making money and becoming well known in the community are distant goals compared to maintaining his relationships with his customers for Siegel. He maintains that the people who come to Revival Records, no matter if they come a day a year or every day of the year, are the reason that Revival Records has become so successful.
“It’s been fantastic to see what this store has done,” Siegel says, “I just love it.”
As the store continues to grow, Siegel is excited to see the store continue to grow into an Eau Claire must stop location.
“I’d like to see Revival Records continue to grow in a positive light, and represent Eau Claire,” Siegel said. “I want it to be a staple of Eau Claire.”