“People cherish their records.” Merle’s Record Rack turns 60 this weekend

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A record store in Orange turns 60 this weekend.

Merle’s Record Rack opened in Connecticut in 1962 when vinyl was king.

Owner Michael Papa started working at the store as a teenager in 1977.

“I always answer Merle. My name is Mike, but I always answer Merle because I’ve been here so long people assume I’m Merle,” Papa said.

Over the decades, The Record Rack has withstood the changes that have rocked the music industry.

“The transition from cassette and LP to compact disc and then the demise of compact disc to full digital streaming,” he said.

Even with the vinyl comeback in recent years.

“People treasure their records, you know? And they know when there’s going to be a little pop or a twitch in the record, and that’s almost part of the music,” Papa said.

Merle’s Record Rack has become a meeting place for people of all generations.

“The younger ones, 14, 15, are digging through the files. The dad is digging through the files and the grandfather is in the back talking to me about equipment,” Dad said.

They celebrate their 60th birthday on Saturday with sales, promotions and live music.

“We have bands, local bands that start at 10:30 a.m. The Rum Runners will be here from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.,” he said.

He says after all these years he still loves the thrill of the hunt.

“You have to travel, you have to dig in a lot of nasty basements, to find jewelry. And you can’t leave some leads unfinished because you don’t know what you’re going to end up finding,” Papa said.

Ten percent of Saturday’s proceeds will be donated to Red Cross efforts in Ukraine.

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