Un/common Places

In The Beginning Was Vinyl...Orpheus Records

Rick Carlyle of Orpheus Records

Before ipods, before cd’s, before cassettes—and, yes, before 8-tracks---there were VINYL long-play records, which is what brings us to Orpheus, the used record store at 3173 Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon. Orpheus Records was originally located on M Street in Georgetown from 1977 until 1999, when it moved to Arlington. It’s present location, just across Wilson from the Clarendon Metro, is on one of the few remaining blocks of "Old Clarendon."
Orpheus owner Rick Carlisle started collecting records and hanging out in record stores when he was about ten years old. He finally hung around in one store so much that they offered him a job. After five years an opportunity to have his own store arose and the next twenty-nine years are, as they say, "history."
True, collectors of vinyl records are becoming a rarity, but Rick points out that records, as well as cd’s (which Rick also deals in,) are durable and, most importantly, tangible. A music collection that is entirely electronic is mortally vulnerable to a hard drive crash or a stolen ipod. It can literally disappear and have to be completely rebuilt and re-bought.
The internet has impacted the used records business in other ways, as Rick explains: "the internet has really changed the way you do business. It used to be that people would come in and ask for a record and if you didn’t have it they’d come back in a week or three or whatever and see if you did. Now they come in and ask for a record and if you don’t have it they go on the internet and buy it. . . . It’s one of the reasons why there won’t be many of these stores left."

Update: 3/1/08  Orpheus Records is closing after 31 years in business at the end of March, 2008.

Pictured above:   Rick Carlisle at Orpheus Records
Photo copyright 2006 Cynthia Connolly for Arlington Cultural Affairs