Carl Lackey, who opened Sonic Boom Records in Carrollton Monday, is betting his career that they do.
“Sixty-two percent of all music sold today is still on hard copy,” he said. “It’s not all dead and gone. I decided to open a shop here because there’s no other record shop around.”
Lackey’s new shop at 302-B North Park Street, next to Ballew’s Music, carries new and used CDs, used DVDs, and yes, even new and used vinyl phonograph records.
“There’s a lot of new albums being released on vinyl,” he said. “They’ve jumped in popularity and are outselling CDs two times over.”
For audiophiles looking for vinyl, they can shop to their hearts’ content among thousands of titles new and old. The used vinyl albums sell for $3.99 and up, while the newly released ones go for $14.99 and up.
“With inflation over the years, you’d expect the price to be about $30,” he said.
However, that will now buy you a two-record set with added features.
“Many new vinyl LPs come with a CD in them, plus a download key that lets you download the music all the times you want,” Lackey said.
And for music listeners who no longer have their turntables, Sonic Boom sells new turntables, cartridges and needles.
“I’ll bet we’re the only shop this side of Atlanta that sells phonograph needles,” he said.
While CDs have declined in sales in recent years, vinyl albums are enjoying a resurgence, thanks to a nostalgia wave and technology junkies who want to pick up a top-of-the-line retro gadget.
Ironically, the new Sonic Boom shop is located less than a couple of miles from what was once one of the largest record pressing factories in the world. From 1981 through 1991, CBS Records (bought by Sony in 1988) in Carrollton pressed millions of the top selling 33 1/3 rpm vinyl phonograph records, including the popular multi-million seller, “Thriller,” by Michael Jackson. The introduction of the compact disc in the 1980s brought near extinction to vinyl records, until their rebound in recent years.
Sonic Boom also sells CDs, with used ones going for $5.99 and up. Used DVD movies are available for $3.99 and up. The store also pays cash for used CDs, DVDs and vinyl records.
Lackey was born in Birmingham, Ala., but grew up all over the world, as the child of a military family.
“I was a college dropout,” he said, adding the University of Georgia was one school he attended. “I joined a rock and roll band, left college and failed miserably. I worked awhile at Tower Records in New York City.”
Lackey said he moved back home to Florida “with my tail between my legs,” but he eventually found his way back into the record business.
“I was good at only one thing,” he said. “I decided to open my own store and it did well.”
He later moved to Alabama and opened record stores in Birmingham and Anniston and has remained in the music business about 30 years, at a one-time Birmingham CD store known as “Slip Disc” and later with his own Sonic Boom name in Anniston.
Lackey discovered Carrollton by accident.
“I used to go to Atlanta a lot,” he said. “One day in 1998, I broke down on U.S. 27. While I was getting my car fixed, I fell in love with this town.”
He said people here were friendly and it was a vibrant college town. Although he was living in Birmingham at the time, he later found time to stop back in and visit. At that time, Carrollton had a record shop on Maple Street.
“Last year, I decided to finally make the plunge and move to Carrollton,” Lackey said. “There was no real record shop here and I was getting a lot of college kids from West Georgia who were visiting my shop in Anniston.”
He said he started a serious search for a Carrollton storefront earlier this year.
“I originally looked at downtown, but most of the places were foreclosed or too small,” he said. “I found this location in July and signed a lease. We opened up just yesterday (Monday).”
With the industry-wide decline in CD sales, Lackey said his retail business had to re-invent itself, adding other types of merchandise to supplement recorded music.
“I like to think of this as a pop culture store,” he said.
He also carries T-shirts and other clothing items, jewelry, incense, oils, candles, greeting cards and even refrigerator magnets.
Although Lackey still lives in Anniston, he has closed down his store there and moved the merchandise to his new Carrollton shop.
“I’m probably going to move here soon,” he said.
Sonic Boom Records is open seven days per week. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., on Friday and Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The phone number is 770-214-2631 and the store has a Facebook page, and a webpage is under construction.
“There’s still a lot of people buying music,” he said Tuesday, “and I’m going to be here for all the music lovers and musicians in town.”