Digital nostalgia sees film camera, typewriter and vinyl sales surge

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  • As people tire of screens, vintage technologies like typewriters and records are making a comeback.
  • Insider spoke with sellers of records, typewriters, vintage video games and cameras.
  • They all said business was booming – here’s why.

Gramercy Typewriters, one of New York’s last remaining typewriter stores, feels like a portal to another era.

“Our shelves are a little empty right now,” said Nick Campano, a salesman in a plaid suit and blue velvet jacket, pointing to a dozen typewriters lined up on the store’s narrow walls. . “We sold six machines yesterday.”

In the last five minutes, three customers and a dog walked through the store door. Business is booming, Campano explained, and sales have only increased during the pandemic, mainly thanks to young customers.

“I think it has to do with getting tired of staring at our computer screen,” he said. “We watch it so much…that what’s old has become new again.”

And it’s not just typewriters. Retro vinyl records, cameras and video games have all grown in popularity over the past two years, sellers told Insider.

DKOldies, a family-owned vintage games company based in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, has been “considerably busier” this year than ever.

“It’s been quite a scramble to place all these orders,” said Joey Walker-Denny, who leads DKOldies’ social media department. Currently, the most popular products are the Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii consoles, he told Insider.

Gramercy typewriters

Gramercy Typewriter Sales Associate Nick Campano stands outside the retail store.

Hannah Towey / Insider


The same goes for vintage cameras, according to Silvio Cohen, vice president of sales at camera store Adorama in New York.

“There’s a much greater demand for analog cameras or film cameras,” he said. “It saves you from having to use a computer for everything in your life.”

The retro aesthetic has become so popular that mobile apps like Dispo, which forces you to wait a day before viewing your photos, are used for the sole purpose of mimicking the experience of a disposable camera.

Why intentionally downgrade a $1,000 iPhone to imitate a $13 camera? Or write on a device without a spell checker or delete key?

Some researchers would say the answer lies in the 20-year cycle of nostalgia: in the 2020s, the year 2000 is all the rage. Others defend the “golden 40-year rule”, arguing that “the primary site of nostalgia is always what happened, or is thought to have happened, over the decade. between 40 and 50 years old.

The difference this time around is that technology is deeply embedded in our recent memories of the past. As Kyle Chayka explained in a New Yorker article exploring the recent rise of pixel art, we’re in the midst of the “first wave of digital nostalgia.”

Add global pandemic, constant


Zoom

meetings, a new addiction to TikTok and limited in-person interaction, and you get “online fatigue”, giving rise to a strong desire for simpler times – regardless of the decade.

In the case of vinyl sales, the last two years have just accelerated a trend that was already there, Sharone Bechor, CEO of record store Rock and Soul, told Insider.

“Vinyl has been on the rise for the past five years,” she said. “During the pandemic, people were less on the go…they were at home and they were just enjoying their lives.”

But while many tried to distance themselves from their screens, the creators of the technology offered the opposite: a virtual reality you never have to leave. This so-called “metaverse,” recently featured in Facebook’s renaming to Meta, was mentioned at least 449 times in third-quarter earnings calls.

Even with the brewing of Web 3.0 on the horizon, vendors say they’re confident the technology of our past is here to stay.

“I feel something different when I flip through the pages of a photo album…it’s not the same when you just look at it on your phone and swipe it,” Bechor said. “There’s something special about holding something tangible that you wouldn’t get from the Metaverse.”

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