Do you like vinyl records and all things vintage? Don’t miss this event in Alabama

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Fifty thousand vinyl records. One hundred twenty-one vendors. Six o’clock.

Get ready for Indiana Jones levels of box-digging, when the first Records & Retro Market hits the Orion Amphitheater from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The market is free to enter.

The event was in the works even before Orion, the world-class concert venue that opened in Huntsville this spring, was completed.

Married couple Andy and Ashley Vaughan, owners of fantastic Huntsville record store Vertical House Records, organized Records & Retro, inspired by an idea from Orion’s general manager, Ryan Murphy, who had success with a fair to records at the previous venue he ran, Florida’s St Augustine Amphitheater.

For vinyl lovers, a big draw of record shows is digging into records they don’t see every week in their local stores. Local stores like Vertical House and Madison’s Black Dog Grounds & Sounds will have booths at Records & Retro. But so will Seasick Records of Birmingham, Yellow Racket Records of Chattanooga, Waterloo Sunset Records of Atlanta and Elevator Vinyl of Hendersonville, among others.

In a treat for Huntsvillians at the time, Jay Ratts, the former owner of Huntsville’s much-missed Sunburst Records, will also have a booth.

Rocker Jack White’s Nashville label, Third Man Records, will be at Records & Retro. American Muscle Shoals star John Paul White’s Single Lock Records imprint as well. Other record labels established for Records & Retro include Birmingham’s Earth Libraries and Florence’s Arkam Records.

The Vaughns found suppliers for Records & Retro through relationships built over the years by visiting other record stores as well as through Instagram. They also found suppliers through a database of salespeople.

“Many sellers are actually customers who come to the store and have huge collections,” Andy explains. “We had a (smaller scale) record show at Lowe Mill (the Huntsville Arts Center is located in Vertical House), so we had contacts as well.”

As the name suggests, Records & Retro has a twist: all things vintage. “We wanted to mix the traditions of a record show with the addition of retro vendors to add that extra element to the event,” says Ashley. “These are people who sell and repair analog equipment, and others who specialize in clothing, furniture, tchotchkes, comics, etc.” A full list of Records & Retro suppliers can be found on the Vertical House website.

In addition to the record, cassette and CD aisles, Vertical House also includes an integrated vintage store at the back of the shop, Ida Mae Vintage. Ashley has been frequenting the vintage stuff since she was a baby, pushing herself in a stroller to the antique shops her parents took her to almost every weekend. In high school, finding vintage T-shirts at thrift stores became one of his favorite things to do.

“Even these days, my closet is 90% second-hand,” Ashley says. “For most items, I will buy from an estate sale or thrift store before buying new, if possible. It’s definitely part of our way of life.

At the time the Vaughns started Vertical House Records in the spring of 2007, Andy was still hard at work as a graphic designer. Ashley was serving tables. After launching the store in a 200 square foot space on the second floor of Lowe Mill.

Along with the resurgence of vinyl retail, Vertical House has become one of the go-to record stores in the Southeast. They have moved into larger spaces at Lowe Mill (address 2211 Seminole Drive) about five times, the last being in 2013 in their current “railway room” outside the arts center. Vertical House’s used and new stock can range from David Bowie, Queen, Prince and Aretha Franklin to Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Childish Gambino and Lizzo.

For their Records & Retro booth, Andy held back items he’s purchased for Vertical House over the past few months to curate a star-studded lineup. “Definitely a good mix of classic rock, pop, soul, psychedelic, punk, indie, metal, hardcore, folk, jazz and blues albums,” says Andy.

This stash includes records from the Beatles, Hendrix, The Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, The Zombies, Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin, Robert Johnson and The Who. “Most of them haven’t hit the shelves of our store yet,” Andy says.

Records & Retro takes place across the campus of the Orion Amphitheater, located at 701 Amphitheater Drive NW in the MidCity development near University Drive. Vendors will be set up in the amphitheater’s main dome, its halls and beyond. “Vendors are all mixed together to encourage customers to visit all areas,” says Ashley.

Humans can’t live on vinyl and vintage alone. So there will be food trucks near the northern entrance to Orion. Huntsville’s Yellowhammer Brewing will have pop-up bars, and Gold Sprint Coffee will provide free coffee (!) to fuel your reading. Live bands, including indie roots rockers The Invisible Teardrops, and DJs will compose the day’s soundtrack.

For the best selection, it’s obviously best to do a record show early in the day. But the Vaughns intended Records & Retro to be an all-day cool place, not just a Black Friday-type madhouse.

In addition to a good day of sales, the Vaughns hope that Records & Retro will allow attendees to meet new friends and reconnect with friends they haven’t seen in a while. They also hope the event will become a new Huntsville staple.

Ashley says vibrant vintage retail adds to a city’s culture by adding unique options for buying local. “Sure, it’s easy to get stuff online, but it’s so much fun to go treasure hunting.”

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