Nearly killed off a decade ago by compact discs and digital music downloads, the mighty vinyl record is fighting its way back onto turntables across America.
Toe-tappers snapped up nearly 1 million records last year, a 15 percent increase and the highest level in three years, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Though the LP never lost its luster to many audiophiles and the handful of independent music stores that kept healthy numbers of them in stock, mainstream retailers now are getting into the act.
The most recent is Richfield-based Best Buy Co. Inc., which is launching a pilot project at an undisclosed number of stores.
"We've got an executive here who's basically responding to his own children and is sponsoring a test to see if there's a market," said Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson, 59, with a big belly laugh, adding, "As an old vinyl collector, this is close to my heart."
Best Buy, the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer, is predictably tight-lipped about the test, to avoid artificially tipping the scales.
But even if the retailer ends up rolling out record sales nationwide, as competitor Circuit City Stores Inc. did years ago, no one expects vinyl to drive Best Buy's earnings.
For veteran album collectors such as Scott Johnson, who recently picked up a fresh stack at Arc's Valu Village Thrift Store in Richfield, the long-playing record's rise from throwback to comeback is a welcome sign.
"Music sounds great on vinyl if you get a nice, decent copy," said Johnson of Prior Lake, who said he is in his mid-40s. "You get a warm sound. You get the liner notes, cool artwork. ... It's more fun."