Al Robbins is a senior citizen who isn’t afraid of technology. In fact, he’s required to embrace it.
The 77-year-old south Chandler resident is the president of Al’s Olde Record and VHS Transfer, 11785 E. Winchester Place, a business that preserves old recordings and precious memories.
The former traveling salesman and musician may have retired from the road, but not from the business.
Q: What’s your musical background?
AR: In 1941, I went to work after school in the family clothing business and started clarinet and saxophone lessons at the same time. I developed an interest in big band, swing and jazz, and collected 78 rpm records. That evolved into LP’s, then reel-to-reel, cassettes, eight-tracks and, finally, compact discs. When I was older, I played in combos and orchestras from 1945 to 1965. I still have my two horns, but have not played for about eight years. I was also a volunteer disc jockey for two jazz programs called Swingin’ Pearls and Jazz Kaleidoscope in Worcester, Mass.
Q: Who are some of your favorite artists?
AR: They’re reflective of my era: Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Woody Herman, among others. Then came along Stan Kenton and he remains my favorite to this day.
Q: How did you get started in the record transfer business?
AR: I had close to 700 records in my collection and had them transferred to cassette tapes. Word got around that I could do this and I did it as a favor for many people and never charged them. But when I started to realize how much this cost me, I started to charge a minor fee. My business started to grow and, thus, Al’s Olde Record Transfers was born. When CDs became popular, I switched from cassettes to compact discs.
Q: What services do you offer?
AR: I can transfer 78s, 45s, LPs, cassettes, reel to reel and eight tracks to CD format. I can also transfer 8 and 16 mm film and VHS tapes to DVD format. The name of the company recently changed to Al’s Olde Record and VHS Transfers to reflect the types of services I offer.
Q: What are your fees?
AR: Because each type of transfer has its own demands and problems, I quote prices according to my clients’ needs. I would prefer potential customers call me for quotes before they start the transfer process.
Q: What do you think of all of the technological changes in formats over the years?
AR: Each new invention excites me and the changes are usually for the better. After a while you get used to the format and bingo – out it goes and a new thing appears.