Hard as it may be to believe in this tech-savvy era, music lovers are rediscovering vinyl.
845 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 954/762-9488, radio-active-records.tumblr.com
The reviews of Victoria Park’s Radio-Active Records speak for themselves. Of the more than 25 reviews on Yelp.com, the average is five stars, and none of them rate it below four. Alternative weeklies such asNew Timesregularly cite it as the best record shop in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Why do so many consider it the gold standard of South Florida record stores? For starters, it’s as well-stocked, well-priced and well-managed by knowledgeable music nerds as the best record shops in any metropolitan area. And it’s grown where so many music retailers have toppled.
“People come to us because of the products, because of the professionalism, because of the rapport,” says manager Mike Ramirez, the public face of the store and a fellow-collector. “It’s what builds a community and builds a store.”
It wasn’t always this way. When the store was founded 10 years ago, it had the banal name “CD Collector,” reflecting a bygone era when people, you know ... collected CDs. Cognizant of plummeting CD sales (thanks to iTunes) and spiking record sales (because music aficionados still liked to buy physical products), Ramirez shifted the store’s focus to vinyl in 2005, expanding its small space in the Gateway Plaza and rebranding it Radio-Active Records.
It was during this time that the shop built its reputation as a go-to place for unusual new and used records, with Ramirez employing his encyclopedic knowledge of pop, rock and jazz to order titles that run from Top 40 to the best in underground music.
“Our clientele ranges from 15-year-old girls to 70-year-old men,” Ramirez says. “If you’re going to come in and look for something, we’re going to help you out.”
The latest step in the shop’s evolution was its migration, in October of 2011, to a more cost-effective and visible storefront a mile away. “We’ve had an increase in new customers just from people driving back and going, ‘What is this? Who are you? How long have you been in business? Is this new?’ It was the best decision we could have made.”
To continue reading, pick up the July/August issue of Boca Raton magazine.