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Luke’s Record Exchange will spring back to life

Retail Rebound
By IAN DONNIS  |  October 29, 2008

LukeINSIDE.jpg
STILL PLUGGED IN: Renchan is unpacking the vinyl.

When Luke T. Renchan announced in March that his landmark record shop, Luke’s Record Exchange in Pawtucket, was closing after 29 years in business, it was a sad and not very unsurprising story. Small businesses — particularly those trafficking in such outmoded products as LPs and CDs — can’t be reasonably be expected to make a go of it in 2008, right?

Wrong.

Renchan called me this week to share the word that his record shop, located at 393 Broadway in Pawtucket’s Pleasant View section, will be the subject of a grand reopening on November 8.

“I realize there’s still a market out there,” Renchan says, describing how he received an outpouring of support after closing his store in May, with some customers saying they would have to travel to Boston or New York to fill their vinyl needs.

That kind of feedback, along with growing vinyl appreciation among college students, convinced Renchan that he can fill a niche in the retail music business. His focus will be “90 percent vinyl,” he says, since “vinyl seems to be huge.”

The music maestro plans to step up his online presence (lukesmusic.com) and to open his store five days a week, rather than just two, as had been the case prior to his closing. “I’m going to find out what the needs for the customer are,” he says, and will buy vinyl to restock his supply.

When Renchan prepared to close Luke’s earlier this year, he called it the oldest mom and pop record store in southern New England. The shop opened in 1979 amid the punk and new wave move-ment (although the proprietor himself is more of a Beatles/’60s kind of guy).

Judging by the experience of Luke’s, sometimes institutions need to be on the verge of extinction (see “End of an era: After 29 years, Luke’s Record Exchange prepares to close shop,” News, This just in, March 19) just to know that they’ll be missed.

Around the time he was closing, Renchan says, it was the busiest he’d been in about eight years. Parents brought their young children in, saying, he says, “This is what a record store used to look like.”

While Renchan, a self-described workaholic, has sometimes paid a toll for his devotion to the business — at one point living over the store, and receiving record requests from would-be customers in the middle of the night — he says firmly, “It’s not time to pull the plug on it.”

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  Topics: New England Music News , The Beatles, vinyl
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