CLINTON — This past July, Lost Hi-Way Records, a vintage vinyl record store opened in Clinton, featuring several genres of long-playing 33&1/2 vinyl albums to choose from, along with antique books, CDs and DVDs.
Located at 32 College St., behind the Subway sandwich shop, store owner Mike Zombek of Deansboro said he hopes to provide entertainment choices not just to the older generation of the 70s and 80s, but to young listeners as well.
He’s just trying to offer people something new and unique.
“I grew up in Deansboro, spent a lot of time in Clinton,” Zombek said. “And I felt the retail area [of the village] could use a little variety beyond the average gift shop. This has turned into a very hot market right now, so this space became available, I knew the owners and decided to give it a go.”
Zombek, who owns the store with his wife, Alicia, said she’s really the brains of the operation.
“I’m more acquisitions and inventory and she’s design and administrative,” he said. “She’s also been wonderful with her moral support, I truly couldn’t have gotten to this point without her.”
The new record store owner said while the shop is new, he’s been in this business, albeit online, for many years. And while online sales has it’s benefits, it also has its disadvantages.
“Selling online isn’t a community, you’re just a guy on a computer with a big warehouse and frankly...it’s a little lonely,” Zombek said. “it’s nice to have community and meet people, and find out what they’re interested in.”
Zombek said there’s another reason that a store, opposed to online, benefits his business.
“It’s also brought in a lot of stuff I couldn’t have found any other way,” he explained. “Acquiring inventory has become a lot more difficult these past years. Having an open shop gives people somewhere to take their old records to, and helps me maintain a more diverse collection for sale.”
Lost Hi-Way carries a pretty diverse collection of vinyl. They offer jazz, show tunes, motion pic,sure soundtracks and a wide variety of classic rock and roll, including the albums of people like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and groups such as Led Zeppelin and The Doors.
Zombek said he likes the idea of having a store because he can talk to people and dispel a lot of inaccurate theories about old records, and he likes how the foot traffic in Clinton can help him spread the word that just because an album is old, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valuable.
“Records are everywhere, you know for years they were so common up until the last 30 years.,” Zombek said. “This new trend has created this buzz, sort of like comic books, also 30 years ago. So with the store, I can see right up front what people are buying and what’s valuable.”
Zombek said he plans on doing a 50% off sale during the Clinton Arts and Music Festival on the Aug. 24. weekend. Pricing is very important to Zombek, he said it’s the only way to keep the music circulated. Also, it’s the only way to turn stock over.
“I keep my prices low so I can move my product,” Zombek said. “If something is going for $20 online, and I have it, I’ll sell it for $15. That way people will come to see me and who knows what they will bring through the door with them.
The album aficionado said he has about one thousand albums in the store as it is, but that these are just the tip of the iceberg. At his home, in a barn, he has about five times the amount he does at the store.
Right now the store is just a weekend operation, Zombek, a graduate of Herkimer County Community College, has a full-time career as a media tech with SUNY Morrisville College. his wife, Alicia works with the Cornell Cooperative Extension. But Fridays and Saturdays Zombek can be found in the store Noon-6 p.m. and Sundays 11a.m. - 4 p.m.
In addition to vinyl, Lost Hi-Way Records carries rare books, older DVDs, vintage cassette tapes, and CDs.
Zombek said he hopes people will visit his store from far and wide just to check out his nostalgic collections. He enjoys all kinds of music and he enjoys talking about it just as much. He likes rock, blues, jazz and what he calls bubble gum. He even likes Polka music.
“Yeah, well, I’m polish-what can I tell ya,” Zombek said. “I don’t carry a lot of it, but hey it’s fun, it’s dance music.”