Uncle Aldo’s Attic in East Mesa Is a Classic Paradise
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In a nondescript mall in East Mesa, Uncle Aldo’s attic advertises with a large banner that reads: Vintage Records. Inside is a pop culture wonderland that not only features a sizeable amount of vinyl, but also an impressive selection of books, board games, characters, and comics – an inventory fueled by the owner’s passion for nostalgia.
“In California there was a swap meeting every weekend,” says owner Desi Scarpone. “So I picked up records for 40 years. It’s a disease. I have 50,000 records at home. “
Scarpone lived in Southern California and worked in post-production for DisneyToon Studio films like Planes and Return to Neverland until he was fired. He moved to Arizona six years ago.
“I didn’t have any money and didn’t want to work at Walmart,” he says. “I’m a big collector, so I figured maybe people would buy collectibles.”
When he noticed that his vinyl sales exceeded all other items, he opened his own record store. Uncle Aldo’s attic, which has been in existence for about three years, is at 6016 East McKellips Road.
Scarpone’s uncle, Aldo of the same name, and his large personal collection of memorabilia were an inspiration.
“Something about that weird and magical junkyard he always had with me,” says Scarpone.
Turntables and vintage stereo parts sit between the board games and comics.
Most of the records on the shelves (which Scarpone built by hand) are from Scarpone’s own collection. A small percentage comes from what customers brought him to broadcast. Same goes for the vintage board games. Scarpone once attended a swap meet where he noticed a board game he owned as a kid that was available for just $ 1.
“From there I couldn’t stop buying the games I had as a kid,” he said.
Now Scarpone is also an expert in this field. He wrote Board Games: CD, released in 1995, followed by More Board Games, released in 2000.
As a longtime collector’s items seller, he has seen trends come and go, and in 2020 he noticed a sudden surge in demand for entertainment.
“That sounds so horrible, but the pandemic was really good for me,” says Scarpone. “I’ve never done better business.”
Research agrees. A study by Felix Richter, a data analyst at Statista, confirms that record sales of albums in the US rose for the 15th consecutive year by 2020. Vinyl LP unit sales were 10 million in 2015 but 27.5 million in 2020 and are expected to increase.
“I think the kids saw that vinyl had better fidelity than CDs,” explains Scarpone. “It just sounds better on vinyl and they are drawn to the tactile feeling of holding something.”
Any fans of Duck Hunt? The classic game is designed for this TV from the 80s near the front door.
18 year old Robert Lovato is one of Scarpone’s most frequent customers.
Lovato’s dad owns the ’80s-style Starfighters Arcade next to Aldo’s, and he suspects that growing up in this retro atmosphere will make him love vintage music.
“Personally, I like records because they have a story,” says Lovato. “It’s very interesting to think of the person who owned the record before you.”
Lovato and his friends founded the punk / new wave band Polybius four years ago. They play cover songs by bands like Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Misfits in the arcade.
“A lot of our covers are from the 1980s,” says Lovato. “So the records I’m looking for are similar to the music we play.” Lovato even remembers the first record he bought at Aldo’s: Ocean Rain by Echo and the Bunnymen.
“I think people associate this decade with this music as a better time,” Lovato says of the rising demand for vinyl. “So there is an escape, but people also like to collect things, which is easier these days.”
Scarpone says he enjoys the wide range of customers and the ability to offer sometimes whimsical and obscure merchandise.
“A guy just walked in here the other day and said, ‘Do you have Pavlov’s dog? ‘And I said, “Indeed, yes I do,” and he was out in 45 seconds. ”
However, don’t expect any reprints in his business. “A lot of the reorganized things are not good,” says Scarpone. “I only sell the originals. I want people to be happy. I want you to be satisfied. “
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