Record shop offers new and old vinyl

Nate Scheuermann

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By Nate Scheuermann

Taking a short walk downtown from Phoenix Park, you’ll find a plethora of local shops up and down Barstow Street that all have a unique experience to offer. One shop on the 100 block of South Barstow Street, in particular, has a unique, analog feel that some shoppers could find difficult to discover in this modern, digital world.

As soon as one walks into Revival Records, they are immediately taken back to the days of analog music and greeted by murals and framed records. One of the first things one will notice is the memorabilia located all around the store. 

“There’s a lot of interesting pieces up here. Some of these pieces are from my childhood, some are from my family’s childhood,” said Billy Siegel, owner of Revival Records. 

Siegel opened his record store in October 2009, and moved the store into its current location in 2014. Siegel opened his first store when he believed there was no market in records, but thought that vinyl could be making a comeback. 

“My wife thought I was absolutely crazy. She thought I was nuts, all my friends thought I was nuts. But I wanted to do it. I thought there was going to be a resurgence in it. I had no idea how big it was going to get.” Said Siegel.

Siegel, a business graduate of the Chippewa Valley Technical College in 1994, says he’s been working in retail since 1991, and that he “Wanted to do something that I loved.” Originally, Siegel thought he would end up doing more online business than catering to shoppers. However, as he puts it, that notion was put to rest almost immediately. 

“I wasn’t sure if Eau Claire could support a record store, so my first store was a 440 square foot store, it was just tiny. But I just wanted to have a brick and mortar record store that I thought I could do online business with. As soon as I opened, within the first two weeks, I realized Eau Claire could support a record store and that I wouldn’t need to do online sales. I’ve never done online sales, its all been customers coming in and finding it.”

Siegel says he’s always liked the downtown area, and that moving closer to the college campus was a great opportunity. Siegel has the store set up as to take one back to the days of our parents shopping for music. There’s row after row of bins filled with records. There are murals throughout the store that reflect Siegel’s musical taste, and of course, the memorabilia. 

“I have a set of Beatles bobblehead dolls from 1964 I believe. My Mom got those from my great-grandma as a birthday present when she was 13-years-old, so there special to me. I have an Iron Maiden wallet that I won at a limbo contest at a seventh grade dance. So all this stuff is just special to me because I’ve had it so long and its just part my path in music.” Said Siegel. 

“My musical path is actually all through this store.” Said Siegel, as he pointed out the various murals hung throughout the store of Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and the Beastie Boys. 

“I’ve put murals throughout the store of bands that changed me, and my musical way of thinking. The Beatles obviously are timeless. They were influential in everybody’s music. Then there’s the Beastie Boys, that one’s License to Ill. I wore that cassette out. It was such revolutionary change in how I thought about music at the time.” 

As for what unique experiences owning the store has brought to him, Siegel said that it was acutely the connections he has made that he values most. 

“The friends I’ve made at this store has been priceless. My customers are everything to me, and where this store has taken me, I just had no idea that this is the path I would take. I’m just so thankful for all my customers and all the friends I’ve met here. This store is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of.” Siegel said. 

Besides selling records, Revival also hosts local bands on occasion. Siegel says that it’s all for the bands, and for all ages who want to come see them.

“It’s about supporting local music, giving them a stage to play on. There’s not many places downtown where somebody can host all-age events because they’re usually at bars.” Siegel says. This is just a nice place where a band can set up and everybody can come see them. I never charge for my shows.” 

“I’d love for everybody to take away the nostalgia of a brick-and-mortar record store. This store is set up like it would be 40, 50 years ago.” Says Siegel.

Pictured is Billy Siegel, owner of Revival Records, taking a hands-on approach to helping customers find new ways of listening to bands, both new and old. © Nate Scheuermann 2018.