A rising number of even tech-savvy music lovers are finding their way back to old-school vinyl records as a way to own their collections rather than rely on the whines of streaming services to feed their need for tunes. And even younger music lovers are finding the benefits of vinyl albums.

“It became a new option for that generation in a lot of ways,” said Tacoma’s Bread Truck Records owner Alan Chalfant.

Tacoma Bread truck records
Try not to sing the chorus after just looking at this album cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” Photo credit: Steve Dunkelberger

The record revival also allows bands to sell directly to customers and for fans to get “bonus content” that doesn’t come from streaming music, such as punchout puzzles, posters, photo albums, and liner notes, or that records are routinely pressed in various colors.

Two issues, however, stand in the way of the resurgence of vintage albums. Brick-and-mortar record stores might not be convenient, and online options might be hit or miss on quality by offering scratched or worn records at pristine prices.

Chalfant opted to solve both potential problems by creating a mobile record store, where the collection comes to the buyers rather than the other way around. He had collected records for 30 years and worked a long stretch at Turntable Treasures and House of Records.

Tacoma Bread truck records
Music lovers might see the Bread Truck Records collection at venues like the Java Jive for special events and by invitation. Photo courtesy: Bread Truck Records

The Birth of Bread Truck Records

“That’s where I learned the business side of the hobby,” he said, noting that he wanted to step out on his own, but plans for a storefront fell through. So he went mobile, starting in 2021 with the purchase of a delivery truck that he set out to modify with display racks and auxiliary power for lights turn tables.

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started all of this,” Chalfant said. “I just know what I wanted when I was done.”

His concept, which started operations last year, is to have a mobile record store that could pull up to birthday parties, corporate events, and special concerts so attendees can explore the racks of records at their leisure. Of course,  Chalfant is there as a vinyl concierge of sorts to help answer questions and match browsers with potential purchases based on their interests and budgets. But don’t expect to see his truck at every street fair or live-music venue. He wants to create a sense of exclusivity and discovery by not being everywhere all the time.

“I don’t want to just show up,” he said. “I want to be an invited, planned thing.”

Tacoma Bread truck records
The mobile record truck holds about 1,500 records that are pulled from a collection many times more. Photo credit: Steve Dunkelberger

Bread Truck Records Massive Collection of Carefully Curated Music

The truck itself has about 1,500 albums at any given time, stocked from his deeper collection of ten times that number, which spans comedy and funk to soul to classic rock and country. Records range from less than $10 to investment-grade collectibles kept in locked vaults.

The records in the truck come from his collection as well as from bulk buys at estate sales that Chalfant sorts through one at a time to sort the scratched-and-warped trash from the gems. Some of the holy grail finds for collectors include the first pressing of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On that can run $200 to $500; the “Butcher Cover” of the Beatles’ Yesterday and Today, which can net between $2,000 to $18,000 or even $35,000; or a never-released version of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs that can sell for more than $10,000.

Tacoma Bread truck records
“The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady” album by Charles Mingus is widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz records of all time and is a great find if the pressing from 1963 is still playable. Photo credit: Steve Dunkelberger

“I try to do a really good job of curating,” says Chalfant. “Only the best stuff goes on the truck. There’s no crap or beat-up records to sort through.”

Reach Bread Truck Records at 253.666.2080 or Breadtruckrecords@gmail.com for a mobile vinyl record store event.