Vinyl Destination in Merrickville celebrated its 8th anniversary in Merrickville on Canada Day. After moving to the area from Toronto for his wife’s job, Rob Balsillie was drawn by his love of music to abandon his corporate career and start up his own business. “I was the VP of Finance and Operations for a real estate company,” he says. “This was my first me-only store, and my first retail operation.”
Vinyl Destination opened on Canada Day in 2012 and has been providing the area with quality new and used records ever since. In the first five years, Rob’s customers were mainly baby boomers looking for records to feed their nostalgia. Over the past three years though, he has seen many younger people come through his doors looking to get into vinyl. “Its great, because it gives it a future,” he says.
At the beginning of the year, he was seeing a small upswing in sales. However, that stopped when COVID-19 hit in March. Although he does sell some more valuable records online, he depends mostly on the sale of used records in his brick and mortar location to keep the business afloat. “It was hard for all stores, especially for a tourist town like Merrickville,” he says.
Business has picked up since he has been able to welcome people back in his store, but it still isn’t quite back to normal. Usually, he would see the store jammed packed on Canada Day, with tourists visiting Merrickville for the celebration. Although there were some visitors in the Village on July 1, it was nowhere close to the usual crowd that descends on the Village every year. “I was also restricting the number of people in my store to four people [at once],” Rob said.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Rob was still celebrating his anniversary with the chance to win a discount at purchase. He cut a deck of cards, and customers were asked to pick either the bottom or top card to win any-where from a 15% to 35% discount. Regular customer Dan Freed from Ottawa picked the 35%-off card when he went to the cash to pay for his records. Dan loves coming to Vinyl Destination because of the friendly atmosphere and great selection “I’m really glad he got the sale,” Rob said. “He’s a really good customer.”
Rob has a lot of loyal customers, but also often impresses newcomers to the area with his reasonable prices and the quality and selection of his records. It was Cart Noonan’s first time in Merrickville on Canada Day, and he just happened to walk by. “I’m really impressed with the store,” he said. “I found some really good stuff that I have been looking for for a while.”