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Familiar Faces: Al Lauer — owner of Cherry Records in Downtown Auburn

By: Paul Cambra Journal staff writer
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Al Lauer is the owner of Cherry Records on Lincoln Way in Auburn. His store sells new and used LPs, tapes and CDs. Other services include transferring your LPs onto compact disc, and framing album covers to hang on your wall. Lauer grew up in the area and attended Ophir Elementary and Placer High School. Q. How long have you been in the record and CD business? A. “Half of my life, which is 28 years. I started out in a small shop on the corner of Cherry and Magnolia.” Q. Is that where the name of the business came from? A. “No, it refers to the condition of the records I sell. I always make sure that they are scratch free. I’ve gained a reputation for that. In 28 years I have only had maybe 50 records come back. My used CDs are guaranteed against skipping” Q. If readers have extensive vinyl collections that they never use, what should they do? A. “Bring them in. We’ll pay cash or about 25-percent more in store credit.” Q. And the ones that you won’t buy? A. “I’ll donate them to KVMR, the public radio station in Nevada City. They have an annual record sale.” Q. What has been your best find, or the most you’ve paid, for a rare or collectible record? A. “That would probably have to be the Beatles’ butcher cover. I’ve bought four or five of them. I usually pay around $125. There’s a way you can tell if you have one. Right under the word ‘Today’ on the steamer trunk cover, you can see the dark V of Ringo’s turtleneck.” Q. Are there any rare or collectible music people should look for in their collections? A. “Value is an arbitrary thing, but any original Elvis albums are always good.” Q. How has the digital music revolution affected your business? A. “We sell so much older music and a lot of it is unavailable for download. Every new release though is now available on vinyl. There used to be record listening parties. Someone would buy a new record and friends would get together to listen to it. You’d pass the cover around the room to look at, read the liner notes. It was a social medium. Today, with the iPod, it’s total isolation. There’s no sharing of music anymore.” Q. The market for vinyl has to be rather small these days. Who is your typical buyer? A. “All ages. From high school to people older than me. A lot of people are going back to buying records. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s the sound — some records they say sound better than CDs — or probably a little of both.” Q. How often do you change your window display? A. “Usually every 30 to 60 days. They tend to fade after awhile. But people always stop and look, pick out albums they own or used to own.” Q. What is your favorite album cover? A. “That’s a really hard one to answer. I’ll have to go with Sergeant Pepper. There’s a lot to look at and everything is there for a reason. It’s fun trying to figure out the meaning behind them.” ------------ al Lauer Age: 56 Family: Three children, ages 17, 19 and 21 Residence: Auburn cherry records Where: 916 Lincoln Way, Auburn Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon to 3 p.m. Sunday Phone: (530) 823-2147