15,000 records later, Benoit still collecting vinyl

By Darcy Cudmore

Oct. 22, 2015

J.P. Benoit was 13-years-old in 1978 when he walked into his first record store and was given a free vinyl record.

That experience left him always wanting more as he built up his collection over the next 37 years.

Now 50, Benoit estimates he has owned more than 15,000 records in his lifetime. He’s sold plenty in his collection but he still has that first record.

It was a blue coloured vinyl by a Canadian band named Zon that was given to him for being the first person through the doors of the new Sault-Saint Marie, Ont. shop called Records on Wheels.

Benoit said the shop only lasted 10 years before being shut down. As CDs and cassettes were invented, vinyl records went the way of the dinosaur until recently, when in 2014, record sales were the highest since 1996, and rising.

It’s the thrill of the hunt, along with the love for hearing new music that has kept Benoit at it all this time, always taking chances on recommended artists by other avid listeners.

“You’ve got to be experimental. You can’t just stick with what everyone else has.”

I’ve known Benoit for a number of years now and he has turned me onto music I had never heard of before.

Benoit showed me the pride in collecting and the beauty in the fuzz as the needle hits the record, after setting me up with my first record player.

Many people have stepped into what Benoit calls the Vinyl Vault to buy records and players, always leaving with a taste of something new that they may or may not like.

On this particular night, as I sit in the Vinyl Vault, surrounded by lava lamps and eclectic collectibles that could be seen in a horror movie, we’ve listened to everything from English singer-songwriter Chris Rea to indie folk band Of Monsters and Men.

“I listen to pretty well everything and anything. The thrill is in finding new and different stuff and expanding your listening.”

Benoit continues to buy and sell. He usually has 4,000 records at a time in his personal collection, with an additional 1,000 he is selling. He recently was in Moncton for a record fair where he bought a number of records by bands he had never heard of, but were recommended by fellow vinyl junkies.

Benoit will never stop collecting the things that fill his basement. It’s a hobby that has taken up a large part of his time since that day in 1978 when he walked into Records on Wheels.

He talks about the hunt and the new music, but the biggest reason he is such a vinyl lover is plain and simple.

“Records sound better.”