Desi Scarpone is the ultimate record collector. With more than 50,000 records in his home, Scarpone understands the joy of vinyl.
“There’s a tactile sense to having something tangible in your hand,” Scarpone said. “If it’s on the computer, you can’t hold it or see it as well. On a CD, it’s all tiny.”
Scarpone is banking on the vinyl revival with the opening of his Northeast Mesa store Uncle Aldo’s Attic at McKellips and Recker roads. There, he focuses on vintage vinyl from the 1950s to the 1980s.
He also has a hearty collection of eight-track cartridges, cassette tapes, Star Wars action figures, vintage videogames and vinyl accessories.
Inside his showcase, he has a VHS of Let It Be, and bumper stickers from the Detroit radio station WRIF. Scarpone buys music as well.
“Everyone loves it here,” he said. “I just need more people to find out about it.”
Scarpone was born in Arizona but relocated to California to study film at UCLA. He spent 30 years in the film industry, working as a production supervisor at Universal Studios and a post-production supervisor for Disney. His credits include Murder, She Wrote; Providence; the Tinker Bell series and Planes.
“I was in a division of Disney that closed down and I, and many others, were laid off,” he said. “I wanted to make movies here. You don’t have to be in California. The first thing I did was start a Kickstarter campaign that didn’t fare well. I was looking for money sources and that’s when I opened the store.”
The bins of vinyl are filled with his doubles as well as those owned by collectors who rent space.
“A lot of stuff does walk in, so that’s nice,” said Scarpone, who is planning record shows, too. “I can keep getting new stuff to refresh my collection.
“The base of the store is mine, just from my collections, doubles and triples. In California, there were swap meets every weekend. I spent 40 years buying records.”
Patrons who come in the shop, which is named after Scarpone’s late Uncle Aldo, are invited to try out music on his turntables.
“I want to make sure they’re happy and satisfied with their purchase,” he said.
He’s willing to offer advice about records and could talk endlessly about vinyl. Scarpone said 45s are “super popular,” but 78s have the best fidelity as the faster a record goes, the better it sounds.
“When they start slowing it down to make money and add songs, it gets worse and worse,” he said. “They even have 16-speed, which is spoken word. They don’t care about fidelity.”
Scarpone can attest for the popularity of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, as Queen music is selling out the door. Music from the 1980s sells well, as he cassettes by acts like INXS and Aerosmith are novelties to kids. He has rare material like “World Destruction,” a collaboration between John Lydon, Afrika Bambaataa and producer/bassist Bill Laswell.
A Nintendo NES sits just inside the door, along with an Atari system and Frogger. Contra—a video game series produced by Konami comprised primarily of shoot-‘em-up games—is picking up.
“I can’t keep Atari in the store,” he added. “You wouldn’t believe, though, how many young kids love games like Duck Hunt. They like it and it only works on a CRT television. You can’t use them on a flat-screen. I’m really surprised people are into that.”
He is having a vintage record show at 9 a.m. Jan. 19, at his former location, 6024 E. McKellips Road, Mesa.
Scarpone chalked his store up to one thing.
“I just can’t throw stuff away,” Scarpone said. “That’s my problem.”
Information: 480-218-1415, unclealdosattic.com