In mid-September, we profiled Taylor Wallace, a furniture maker in Chicago who had stumbled across roughly 50,000 albums (or 15 metric tons of vinyl) that were being thrown into a bunch of dumpsters and ticketed for the landfill. He couldn’t stand to see them go to waste, so he gave them a home at his warehouse studio. It was a nice gesture that quickly became a love-hate relationship, which has only grown more intense in the months since.
Taylor Wallace is at least a little closer to figuring out what to do with all of his records. Emphasis on a little: His progress is best captured in some form of micro-measurement. “I scanned and posted 20 records for sale,” he says. “I sold the George Harrison box set for $40, and Police’s Zenyatta Mondatta, sealed in new condition, for $20. That’s a hell of a deal. Maybe that’s why they sold so fast.”
He’s not sure, though, if offloading them piecemeal is any more of a long-term strategy than any other idea he’s had on how to tame his giant hoard. “The problem is that it takes time to scan and post each one. And do I have that kind of time?” he asks. It’s already a hustle, he explains, to keep the doors open to his very small business — a furniture and installation business called Metal Magic. Including himself, he has fewer than half a dozen employees. (Metal Magic’s clients include a few Chicago Starbucks franchises, the high-end grocer/restaurant Eataly and an office installation in One World Trade Center.)
“I’m out there chasing clients to keep Metal Magic going,” he says. “I’ve got one of my employees scanning the records when they’re not building stuff, but there’s no real system in place yet. She just thinks it’s fun. But I don’t need someone to do it for fun.”
When I suggest he turn his house into a record store, he more or less loses it. “Enough with the records! I’m not making records the core of my life here! I’m busting my ass as hard as I can, and I haven’t paid myself in months. So am I supposed to just close up my business and be the record-store guy? I don’t think so.”
But he’s just as adamant that he’s not getting rid of the records, either. “I’m definitely not gonna give them away,” he says, frustrated. “There’s some amazing shit in there. I don’t know, man.”
And so, his love-hate relationship with his vinyl treasure continues — most days heavier on the hate, but never hateful enough to overwhelm the love he has for it.