CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When record-seller Sam Lowe first drove through Charleston's East End, he thought, "What a great place for a record store.
"Last May, the 34-year-old Huntington native and former record store employee opened Sullivan's Records on Washington Street, just a few storefronts down from Bluegrass Kitchen.
"Our first day was May 11, the same day as the East End Yard Sale," he said.
He named the store after his dog, a mixed-breed mutt he and his and his girlfriend rescued a year and a half ago.
"We're not sure on his exact age or his breeds," Lowe said. "Could be an American Bulldog/Dalmatian mix. He's a big, white dog with black spots and more dog than I would have ever volunteered for, but I love him."
Taking in the dog was a big undertaking. So was starting the record store.
Lowe can't remember the first record he bought, just that he loved them from the beginning. It wasn't just the sound, but the whole experience, which he said is more tangible than just downloading a bunch of songs from the Internet.
Vinyl records are enjoying a renaissance -- and not just from the indie music crowd, which never really gave up on the format. Vinyls had gone the way of the 8-track, becoming all but extinct, but these days even mainstream artists are releasing more music on vinyl records. Big box chain stores like Target are even carrying vinyl records again.
Lowe said the attraction to vinyl is plain to anyone with a good set of ears. "I'm a little biased here," he said. "But it all just sounds better on vinyl."
Not that there's anything wrong with CDs or digital downloads. They're convenient. It's a lot easier to listen to the latest release from Pearl Jam or Arcade Fire on an iPod while you're at the gym or in a car than it is to try to play it on turntable. "But for a serious music listener," Lowe said, "that's all those formats have - convenience."
A record played on a high-end system is just superior, he added.
"I love it when I get people who are in the early 20s, people who grew up in the age of digital only, who've never really seen a record in their lives - and they discover records and it's like they become radicalized. They just never knew about the artwork or what it felt like to have something in your hands."