Watts Music in Novato has been connecting customers with vinyl for over 40 years

ByChris Bollini Localish logo
Thursday, March 17, 2022
California music store carries on the legacy of vinyl
Watts Music offers customers a chance to experience buying music in an emotional way.

NOVATO, Calif -- For many, listening to music is a powerful experience.

"For me, it's something that kind of makes you feel alive," teenager Catania said.

Over the years, music has been delivered into many different forms: first, vinyl records, then cassette tapes, later CDs, and currently, digital streaming.

For more than four decades, Watts Music in downtown Novato has been there every step of the way. According to manager Darin Chace, selling records has never been better because vinyl is a product you can touch and feel...literally.

"Holding a physical copy of something is an emotional attachment," Chace says. "There's no romance to a download or a stream. Streaming and all that is convenient. It's like microwaving food. It's convenient, but it's not as good as making a meal, and buying a record is like making a meal."

"I still care about albums. I still care about the full message of an artist's output," longtime customer Mike Tham said.

"You listen to it in the order the artist wanted you to hear it," Chace said. "You listen to songs that maybe an algorithm may not tell you to play."

Chace also reminds shoppers that when compared to other formats, records are easier on the ears.

"It's way better sound, way better. It's the full dynamic," Chace said. "It's proven too. It's not just opinion."

The store, which opened in 1979, strives to provide shoppers with an experience that's more than just music.

"People are coming in because they want to forget about their troubles, clear their head, and just record shop."

"This is more than a store. This is mine and a lot of people's water cooler," Tham said. "We come here. We talk music. We talk life."

"After 31 years of working here, I still love it," Chace said. "When people ask me what I want to do like retirement, I said, 'maybe I'll work part-time at a record store."

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