Vintage HiFi

I have spent the summer trying to figure out what business opportunity could materialize from capitalizing on the vintage craze. Have you noticed that everything old is new again and at every turn there is a sentimental affection for the past? Furniture, audio gear, clothing, movies all seem to be designed today with a firm nod to the past.

Physiologists explain nostalgia (part of our attraction to vintage design) tends to accelerate when we live in a time of tumultuous change so we romanticize a simpler time. Who doesn’t daydream of re-creating that small cabin on a beach you visited as a kid or that road trip you took in an old clunker with no worries in the world?

Website, Drinks International, polled 108 of the best bars in the world to discover the most requested cocktails are, an “Old fashioned” (invented in 1880) followed by a “Negroni” (first mixed in Florence Italy in 1919) and in third place the “Daiquiri”, invented in Cuba in 1902 but became popular in America during World War II when whisky and vodka were rationed, but President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy made rum available through trade and travel to Latin America. Not one of the top 25 most popular cocktails is under fifty years old. The “Aperol Spritz”, the drink of summer 2018 had its first wave of popularity in 1950!

If you do a search on Instagram with the hash tag #vanlife you will see 3.8 million posts of young beautiful couples living the simple life out of their van as they surf the pacific coast or mountain bike the Rockies. If you narrow your Instagram search to #vwbus there are more than a million posts. I have been so smitten flipping through vintage bus pictures that I actually bought one (so much to share since our last newsletter!!). There are over 8 million Instagram posts that reference the word nostalgia.

In 1970 JBL released what is now considered with the passage of time, the iconic “L100” Loudspeaker. The “L100” would go on to be the best selling loudspeaker in JBL’s history. JBL by the way, stands for James Bullough Lansing, a pioneering American sound engineer who had two famous companies to his name, JBL and Altec Lansing. James B. Lansing died in 1949.

Back in the 1970s, the JBL “L100” had a design element that well, was stuck in the ‘70s, meaning a handsome (but boring by today’s standards) rectangular box with an innovative foam grill that came in colours like blue and orange. I just returned from attending the Custom Design Show in San Diego and JBL announced the re-issue of the “L100” under the banner the “L100 Classic”, a modern take on the time-honored legend. In other words, a fully modern speaker with a $4,000 price tag in a housing that is all 1970s. They look exactly like the original and if you can believe it, a speaker looking 50 years old with an orange grill stole the show. The poor JBL manager tasked with demo-ing the speakers, spent more time listening to stories from guys who owned the original L100’s than he did selling the new ones!

According to Nielsen, sales of vinyl records are up 66% in Canada from this time last year, surpassing 400,000 units in the first six months of 2018. If I didn’t sell records in our shop I would not believe this. Is it the sound or nostalgia driving this vinyl resurgence?