TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The world may seem dominated by ever-evolving technology, but for Tallahassee native and owner of RetroFit Records Sharod Lee Bines, one thing is certain: vinyl will keep spinning.
"I think it's a lasting format," Bines said. "I think that's been proven, more so than CDs, tapes, 8-tracks, any other format so far as physical formats. I think vinyl has the staying power; it's been proven again and again. It's been up and down as far as its popularity but it's proven it's going to be around a while."
With record collecting parents and two older sisters to show him the more contemporary albums, Bines grew up with a passion for music that brought him through the doors of Tallahassee's independent record store Vinyl Fever.
He recalled how Vinyl Fever's large store would frequently be packed out and was considered "the spot" for fans of music.
When Bines found out Vinyl Fever would be shutting its doors in 2010, Tallahassee was going to be left with a void.
"It was a loss for the city for sure not having an independent music store that solely focused on that so I feel like the community definitely lost out when it lost Vinyl Fever," Bines said.
As a way to fill that void, Bines opened his own shop RetroFit Records in 2011, bringing in an eclectic collection of music ranging from chart-topping to obscure.
The store is now going on ten years in business and has found avid support from the community, from college students just getting into vinyl to long-time collectors on the hunt for their next find.
With only 2,000 independently owned record stores nationwide, Bines was already a standout, but of those, only 30 are owned by people of color.
Because of that, Vans, the globally known footwear and apparel brand took notice of RetroFit Records when filming a documentary series in late 2020.
Bines was selected as one of only five minority record store business owners to take part in the series.
"I was kind of taken aback that they wanted to come to Tallahassee of all places," Bines said. "I was super grateful for the opportunity and it was a really great experience. I wanted to make sure I did my best to represent the shop, the city and the culture as best I could."
This opportunity went beyond just being one of the few people of color operating an independent music store for Bines: it was about representation in the music industry as a whole.
"A lot of the artists topping the charts are artists of color and sometimes those artists aren't represented fully in the music industry behind the scenes," Bines said. "A lot of these artists are at the forefront. You go into many music stores you see their music being sold and a lot of times the people behind the counter don't look like the music they're selling but they're benefiting from it. A bit more balance would be appreciated. I'm trying to do my part and the other 30 stores are trying to do their part."
What Bines has created with RetroFit Records is a place for those who are passionate about music to come together and support artists in an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome.
It's this unique environment and Bines' sheer passion for his job that makes Retrofit Records Totally Tallahassee.
RetroFit Records is located at 439 Gaines St. in Tallahassee.