As the door swung open, the clattering of posters hit by a gust of wind was drowned out by the guitar riffs of a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club tune. It’s immediately a different world. Two highly tattooed men brush past and out the door. Towers of CDs line the path to the counter, which is adorned with posters, flags, and vinyl records. A faded poster of a Billy Joel silhouette has a goofy hand-drawn mouth recently added. Hearty laughter bouncing from somewhere in the back harmonizes with the music. A man behind the counter smiles warmly and reaches out his hand for a greeting.
Paul Doege, 56, is not your average businessman. Owner of Recycled Records, a secondhand music store in Reno, Nev., Doege didn’t allow for awkward introductions. Instead, he offered an enthusiastic handshake and made his way through the stacks of records to the main area, surrounded by DVDs and vinyl records. His simple appearance is complemented with a friendly gaze and a dominant presence. He maneuvered his way to the back office around several customers, many whom he had stopped and greeted by name.
“He’s owned this business for over 30 years,” said Ian Yount, an assistant manager of Recycled Records. “Yet he still manages to know most of the regulars we get.”
Although Recycled Records originally opened in 1978, Doege fell upon this business opportunity by chance in 1980. After he studied marketing at Ohio State, his parents had moved to Reno where they heard through the grapevine that the original owner was going out of business. With the financial help of his parents, Doege jumped on the opportunity, and by the age of 23 he had purchased the record store.
“I was able to keep it going, prosper, and last,” Doege said. “If anything, I would consider to be winning by just lasting.”
That’s not to say that the business hasn’t experienced a couple of their own trials since the new ownership. The original location on Virginia Street and Kietzke Lane lasted 24 years, but they relocated to a store on Moana Lane in 2007 due to a failure to reach a lease agreement. Because of the heavy construction the area was experiencing, store traffic was extremely low. Luckily enough, with his connections throughout the community, Doege was drawn in by the Midtown District on South Virginia Street and had found a facility that they had moved into by November 2012.
“This is by far our best location we’ve ever had, and that includes our location we had for about 25 years,” Doege said. “It’s the fact that it’s the neighborhood. This is the area that we can shine in.”
“Even as a Reno native, I didn’t know that this place existed until they appeared in Midtown,” said a Recycled Records regular, Amy Guevara. “This is easily one of the best kind of businesses to fit in this area.”
Aside from the minor bump in the road at Moana, business has prospered under Doege’s watch. The resurgence of vinyl records in the last few years has kept business up and growing.
“The age groups listening to vinyls are ages 12 to 25. They grew up listening to this stuff with their parents, and that’s where the increase is coming from,” Yount said.
To many, the listening experience is a large part of the appeal of vinyl records.
“There is something special about records,” Yount said. “The sound quality is much more wholesome. More sterile. It fills a room.”
“It’s a different experience when listening to a record as opposed to a CD,” Doege said. “When you listen to a record, it’s an investment. It plays all of the way through and forces you to listen all the way through. You have a piece of artwork in your hands.”
Doege’s love for vinyl records has not dwindled throughout his lifetime. His own personal collection consists of at least 1,000 records with some of his favorites being Peter Gabriel, XTC, and early U2. Though he never had any serious experience in music, a description for his love for music would be nothing short of passion.
“Music is one of those things that fills voids in different aspects of your needs,” Doege said. “Whatever it is, there is some sort of music that will fit it perfectly for you.”
The ride of owning this business has been more positive than anything else for Doege. In general, the business has done extremely well. Recycled Records has a collection of over 50,000 vinyl records, 2,000 tapes, and hundreds of CDs. They buy, sell and trade their merchandise, and they have a steady balance of incoming and outgoing music.
“There’s always something new here, so a weekly trip is a must, just in case something really awesome comes in,” Guevara said. “It’s always something fresh.”
Incoming music isn’t the only fresh thing about the establishment. The store itself has a unique feel that the owner and the employees are extremely proud of. For them, there’s hardly a bad day while being here. While keeping a professional business setting, good humor is necessary and sets the entire vibe of the store for both the customers and the employees.
“A sense of humor is imperative here because we fit,” Doege said. “People don’t work for me, they work with me.”
Keeping a successful, locally owned business for over 30 years is a feat within itself. But even with sight of retirement on the near horizon, Doege still manages to love every second of being there.
“What I would say that I have taken away the most from this when I retire is the fun I’ve had. Most days I have an 8 out of 10 day, sometimes 9 out of 10. Very rarely do I have anything below that.”
Although he does plan to retire to his house in Mexico, he doesn’t plan on being finished with Recycled Records. That’s the one thing the store can count on: he’ll still show up.
“I’ll always be tied to this place. But next time, it’s definitely going to be more of a hobby,” Doege said.
As his time left at the store slowly disappears, Doege is savoring every moment of his journey. His warm smile returns.
“I think if you can get 8’s out of your workday,” Doege said, “you’re doing pretty damn good.”