By Jill Fikelson
Dean Sime has been collecting records since he was in sixth grade. Since then, he hasn’t stopped. Though he stopped working in a music store twenty years ago, he has spent the last ten years rounding up the private collectors of Fargo- and some from out of town- to put on the record fair. This year, he’ll have 40 booths for private collectors to showcase and share their records. “You’d be amazed,'' he said when I asked where he finds all these people. At a time when everyone has an almost unlimited collection of music in their pocket, it’s easy to forget that music collections can take up while closets, or rooms, or libraries. I sat down to talk with Dean as he gears up for next weekend’s fair. We talked about his collection, the annual record fair, vinyl, CDs, and how people are listening to end engaging with music today.
High Plains Reader: Do you think there was a moment where you became a collector of records, or have you always kinda felt that way?
Dean Sime: The funny line would be, I come from a long line of collectors. Everybody in my family collects. Something. Growing up, my sister was probably the first person I really noticed collecting something. She got into panda bears … My dad, who grew up in the ag world, he collected toy tractors. So we had shelves and shelves of toy tractors. Everyone in my family has something they collect. So it’s kind of a natural progression that music and records and cds are kinda my thing that I got really into. I remember being young and seeing people who had a big collection and being like, that’s really cool!... My wife is a librarian so we have lots of books too.
The record fair.. This is the tenth year… when I was younger and worked at the record store, there would be a few record fairs around town. But not a lot, I only went to a few. I never really thought they were that big of a deal. Then, a friend of mine- did you watch the little documentary I sent? Yeah.- a friend of mine called me and asked to visit him in Connecticut. We went to that record fair out there and it blew my mind… The thing about the record fair is. It’s fun to go to a record store but they’re pushing a specific thing. What they buy, they want to sell, that’s their goal. But when you go to a record fair, there are a lot of private collectors. And private collectors, they just kinda bought whatever they thought was weird or unique or cool. A lot of times, you find that guy and he’s not buying to sell to somebody else, there’s a bit more freedom in that. It’s interesting what you can find. You can find some crazy stuff sometimes.
HPR: Where do you usually buy records?
Dean Sime: Anywhere that’s convenient. A friend of mine mentioned this thing called musical tourism. So like for me, whenever I go somewhere- like my wife says we should go here to go visit wherever. One of the first things I’ll do is look up record stores in London or New Work or Senegal. So my list isn’t the statue of liberty or those things, my list is record store a, b, or c.
Records are cool. It’s the whole handling the music that’s a great experience. I think it’s a different experience for people. I mean, your generation grew up with phones, with headphones, all that.
I budget for music, that’s in my monthly budget. It’s weird.
HPR: I miss that experience where you go and you find something like in the record store and you go home and you listen to the whole CD, it’s just different. Spotify has like a million songs or whatever so I’m like exposed to little bits and pieces of things. I’ve found great songs but I don’t sit down and listen to albums.
Dean Sime: Yeah, so there’s a song to album difference. There’s also, for me, there’s a commitment thing. I would read something or whatever and I would buy a record. I just spent my eight dollars or ten dollars on this record and I would go home and I would listen to it. Even if I didn’t like, by god, I was going to listen to a few times … I think there’s things that people don
T give the chance to that might be a slow build. There’s lots of stuff that you listen to right away and you’re like oh that’s great. But there’s other things that you listen to it and say, you don’t really get it and then you get it later. It gets into your head.
This all shifts. The 70’s was a big album time. 80’s were more of a single time. .. Right now, we’re coming into more of a single time. Artists put out one good song. A lot of it is marketing to how people listen.
HPR: I do feel like, in the last few years, records have been coming back. There’s kind of been a resurgence.
Dean Sime: Records have definitely been coming back, there’s been a resurgence. There’s a lot of collectors who are collecting the old stuff. I love when I run into a person and they say, I love this! And I just say, I have no idea what that is. That excites me. That means that person is trying to listen to something that’s not The Beatles or the rolling Stones or you know Metallica. There’s so much music that everybody knows so I’m like, why put energy into that?
HPR: Now, new bands and new musicians are putting out records.
Dean SIme: You can get almost everything on a record now. I was in Orange the other day and there’s an artist called Angel Olson and they put out the new album on vinyl and cassette- they did not make a CD. That’s just crazy to me.
HPR: So you think CDs and records are bought at about the same rates now?
Dean Sime: They’re pretty close. I think CDs still technically outsell records. I’d have to check but there’s something that for the first time in 20 years, records are outselling CDs.
HPR: I just feel like we were talking about how people listen to music now. It seems like almost no one buys CDs/ People buy vinyl records for the collectability and novelty.
Dean Sime: Novelty- I resist the novelty part a little bit. It’s been novel. But I think it’s the collectability, you’ve got this big piece of art. I think the novelty part has gone away now for the last couple years. Now I think people are like committed, the people who are doing it. What I found is people, like your parents who had records as a kid. People like you parents are like we still have the stereo in the basement, let’s fire it up. I’ve talked to lots of people my age or older and we like to put on some records, have a bottle of wine and hang out. I think it’s great. Kids sometimes too, get together and listen to some records.
HPR: I’m not sure if my parents still have their old stereo- maybe.
Dean Sime: Well if they had the Beatles, you should go dig through their records. You never know what you’ll find.
HPR: So you’ve been hosting the record fair for ten years. Is it mostly private collectors? Are some of the local stores involved?
Dean Sime: Yes. This year, none of the local stores are involved. They’ve all done it different times. There’s a guy coming up from Nebraska who I think has a store down there. He’s coming all the way up from Nebraska, he must have something going on. This year, it’s mostly private collectors which is what I want at the fair. I never thought I would have a record fair with a bunch of stores. They have their stores all year round. If I want to see what they got, I can go down there anytime. I like the fact that it’s mostly private collectors. And there’s some collectors that are coming that do it as a business. I have a few coming up from the cities and they do the Fargo record fair, all the MPLS ones, they go to Rochester. There’s a good majority that is just guys with a bunch of records.
HPR: What do you usually look for when you’re shopping for records?
Dean Sime: Umm. It goes all over the place. There’s always kind of a running list of stuff I’d like to have. And some of it is old stuff that I never bought on records when I was a kid or don’t see that often. I read a lot about music so there’s always a list of new stuff I’d like to try out. When I try new music, I like to buy it, take it home, put it on the stereo and listen to it. I’m not a big fan of just pulling it up on Spotify and listening to one song. I like to commit. I buy lots of stuff unheard. I read something about it or the record looks cool. Sometimes, I just surprise myself. This looks really cool, I’m going to buy it. Whether it’s the artwork or what the artist looks like or the song titles. Sometimes its labels or regions of the world.
HPR: Where do you find all these collectors, do we have that many collectors in Fargo?
Dean Sime: Oh, there’s even more than that. This year, we have 40 tables rented right now. A lot backed out that usually do it but I have a few new ones. You’d be surprised how many people have collections of music just stuffed in closets in their basement.
HPR: If you had advice for people coming to the record fair, what would you tell them?
Dean Sime: Don’t look for one thing. Look at everything and be open to finding something new and fun.
HPR: What would you recommend for getting started, like getting a stereo to listen on?
Dean Sime: You can get a really nice stereo for not a lot of money. Get an old, used turntable, an old receiver and some old speakers. There’s a lot of good used stuff out there to start with.
To learn more about the fair and Dean, there is a short documentary called A Perfect Record. It’s a lovely short about a man, his family, and his collection. You can also find him on Facebook and Instagram, counting down the days to the fair. This year, they will be filling up the Tak Music venue in Dilworth. The fair is open to all and will have vinyl, CDs and merchandise. It’s a great place to buy your first record and your hundredth record. Find something weird, make a commitment and join the conversation.
IF YOU GO:
Fargo Record Fair
Saturday, October 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
TAK Music Venue, 1710 Center Ave. W, Dilworth, MN
December 5th 2023
October 10th 2023
August 24th 2023
June 20th 2023
May 27th 2023
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