Make Your Head Spin: Urban Outfitters is now the ‘world’s biggest seller of vinyl records’

When you think of Boston record stores, Urban Outfitters probably doesn’t come to mind. But according to reports this morning, the national retailer, which has local lifestyle shops in Faneuil Hall, Back Bay, Allston, Harvard Square, and elsewhere around town, is now… the world’s biggest seller of vinyl records.

Let that sink in for a second.

“Music is very, very important to the Urban customer… in fact, we are the world’s number one vinyl seller,” says Calvin Hollinger, the company’s chief administrative officer, via Buzzfeed, in a recent company meeting. The news has garnered a different type of headline for the company, which last week left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth after offering for sale a bloodied Kent State sweatshirt.

But when not shopping for offensive clothing, apparently the kids are buying Jack White records, Misfits reissues,and whatever else spins in the form of a 7- or 12-inch black circle. And their target demo, apparently, is kids who grew up in the Napster-to-Spotify era of downloadable music.

Peace out, compact discs, you are now merely a drink coaster that carries mp3s.

Here’s more from the ‘Feed:

[Hollinger] explained that instead of having thousands of vinyl albums online, the company has a system in place that lets it seamlessly offer inventory from roughly 100 vendors without actually owning that inventory, a model it might use with Anthropologie’s home goods.

Vinyl records have been a rare and unusual bright spot for the music industry in recent years, as noted in the chart below, starting with the launch of Record Store Day in 2007. Sales of vinyl LPs rose to 6.1 million albums last year, the highest since at least 1991, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and sales this year are on track to beat that. Just in June, Jack White set a vinyl sales record with his album Lazaretto.

It’s notable that Urban Outfitters, a chain that’s worried it’s gotten too young for its 18- to 28-year-old customers in the past year, is such a big seller of an old technology. The people buying vinyl, it turns out, are those who grew up with the ability to download music or stream it on Pandora and Spotify. (Target and Whole Foods have also tried to get into the business.)

And here’s some fun with charts, via the same report.