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Vinyl isn't 'lost wax' at new Forest Grove record store

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: MICHAEL SPROLES - Skip Buhler aims to set the record straight with his new vinyl business, Lost Wax, which is set to open in Forest Grove Nov. 1.   For nearly 20 years, Skip Buhler longed to open up a store in town that sold more than the average CD. He’s lived in Forest Grove for eight years, and for “Lost Wax” — his new record store opening in two weeks — it’s the vinyl countdown.

The name stems from the process of how wax was used to make the master tracks from which all vinyl albums are made.

“It’s also a metalworking process used in Asia, and I’m an art historian by training, so I was trying to link my two loves — vinyl and art history,” Buhler said.

Currently, he holds a record. Over 10,000 of them, to be exact — from stores, garage sales and Craigslist.

“I’ve been collecting these things since I was 10 — rock, blues, soundtracks — you name it,” said Buhler. “When I was six or seven, my dad had this entertainment room, and we’d ‘Frisbee’ records at each other.

“I didn’t know I’d spend the rest of my life collecting these things.”

Two months ago, Buhler walked by 1834 Pacific Ave. and discovered the space was available for a business. With the shuttering of Forest Groove in 2009, and not many other places selling vinyl (Waltz Brewery and Flying Pig Music have a few) Buhler thought, why not his?

“I grew up having a record store everywhere I lived, and I always talked to the guys running these places,” Buhler said. “They turned me onto so many new songs, and I want that for here in town — for people to stumble onto something unexpectedly cool, or even find something they remember from a long time ago.”

That’s what happened when Buhler stumbled on his first LP record he bought with his own money back in the ’80s: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” soundtrack.

“Everytime I see one, I have to buy it — the very first one I bought skipped all the time,” he said. “I have five of them now, and they all skip.”

Another one of Buhler’s more memorable records discovered him when he walked into a store one day. One of the owners pulled a rare, white album from the back featuring a 70s punk band, Dickies. Inspired by this, Buhler is now a drummer in a band of his own.

“We practice a lot in Portland. It’s power pop with metal elements, with a dark edge,” he said. “We’re in between names and we’ve got a new singer now. It’s not an impossible dream to make music.”

Buhler added he might even sell some inexpensive instruments alongside the used records from his collection. The selling standard for records runs from $5 to $8, but he’ll have them for as low as 50 cents, spanning the genres of rock, jazz, funk, punk, country, blues, hip-hop and much more. For him, it’s not about the money. He just wants to share the good music, and not just because his inventory is completely full.

“With vinyl, the sound quality is better; there’s a warm feeling,” Buhler said. “You’re moving the arm of the turntable, you’re a little more engaged in musical experiences. It’s a format that engages with the listener.”

He believes the future of vinyl is solid, with record presses in Portland making them again. He’ll have a record player in the store for people who want to get a taste of what they have in their hands. A good turntable can even be found for as low as $60 for those wishing to bring the warmth of vinyl into their homes.

Buhler said that for him, music is like food for the soul.

“The best concert I ever went to was for this band called Capitol Punishment — 80s hardcore punk, super lively, insane drummer, and it’s like I’m with this band, their music was so engaging,” Buhler said. “I’ve also seen Black Sabbath twice now, and I have some live records of theirs that I’d hate to be away from.”

The main inspiration for Lost Wax comes from a record store from Buhler’s days in Fresno, Calif., called Ragin’ Records. Come Nov. 1, people can drop the bass — and more importantly, the record needle — when his store opens.

“I’m trying to stay mellow about everything. I’ve been to a lot of record stores, but I’ve never put together one myself,” Buhler admitted. “I’m planning to approach this with a happy heart, and I just wanna help people hear different music.”