Shakopee Valley News:

I was excited to hear that a record store opened about a month ago in downtown Shakopee. When I visited it last week, I had an amazing experience. Vintage Neil Young was playing on the stereo, more than 5,000 vinyl albums (and counting) filled the bins, and authentic concert posters and other collectibles from the 60s and 70s from some of rock’s biggest names adorned the walls.

The store’s atmosphere took me back to the record stores I remember as a teen—bin after bin of vinyl, music enthusiasts combing through records, great music filling the space, scented candles made by a local woman, stereo equipment, glass art, and smoking accessories on shelves and in cases.

I told Steve Shanks, the store owner, I felt like I had traveled through time coming into his store.

“Good,” he replied. “That’s the way I want people to feel.”

The store, Ramble On Records, is located on First Avenue next to Munkabeans. It sells both new and used records.

Like many people who come in, I figured Shanks got the name from the classic song “Ramble On” from Led Zeppelin II. I was wrong. Shanks is an unabashed Deadhead, and the name came from the Grateful Dead’s “Ramble On Rose.” Shanks followed the band for a while, seeing more than 100 of their shows, has a Dead tattoo on his arm, and Dead memorabilia on the walls.

I love to talk music, albums, bands, and concerts, and Shanks can certainly do that. He has in-depth, first-hand experience spanning decades.

“As a kid, I was always listening to music, and I still do,” says Shanks, who’s seen more than 1,000 concerts from best-selling bands to those on the local club scene.

I’m impressed with people who turn their passion into a business. Music is something we can all be passionate about. I had a professor in college who said music is the most powerful discourse because of the range of emotions it evokes. John Denver makes me think of my uncle who played his songs on the guitar when I was a kid, “Age of Aquarius” brings back memories of my hippie-ish aunt, and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Love Changes Everything” carries me back more than 20 years to Arlington, Virginia, because it was the first song played at our wedding reception.

Album sales enjoyed their heyday in 1981 when more than 1 billion LPs were sold, according to Deloitte, a professional services company. Since then, CDs began grabbing more market share, with the vinyl industry basically written off as being on life support in the early 2000s.

That’s no longer true. Vinyl record sales have seen double-digit growth for the last several years.

I was talking to my dad a few months ago about music. He told me he missed one of his favorite albums, Johnny Cash’s 1960 concept album “Ride This Train.” My dad owned it once, but didn’t know what happened to it. The originals are rather rare. Online, they’re cost-prohibitive. Ramble On Records had it in the store at a good price.

Shanks has everything from personal favorites to popular albums to highly collectible ones. He said iconic albums like Fleetwood Mac’s blockbuster “Rumours” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” sell as fast as he can get them.

He showed me some of his more prized albums, including Pink Floyd’s 1973 “The Dark Side of the Moon” with, impressively, the two original posters and two stickers that came with the album still inside. Most people who bought the album back then put up the posters and used the stickers. Another album, valued at about $2,200, is Elvis Presley’s “Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite.”

“There are a lot of things that can make a record collectible,” Shanks told me. “If it’s an obscure label. The version. How old it is.”

He still has the first 45 he ever purchased, which is Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out.” For those looking to sell their vinyl, Shanks is also buying.

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