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After 30 years in business, Hear Again Records owner says the shop is here to stay

Andrew Schaer, owner of Hear Again Records, holding Sam Cooke’s Night Beat album which was playing in the store. (Michael Tubbs/WUFT News)
Andrew Schaer, owner of Hear Again Records, holding Sam Cooke’s Night Beat album as it played in the store. (Michael Tubbs/WUFT News)

There is a music store in downtown Gainesville that’s so old, it saw vinyl make a comeback.

In the years it’s been open, Hear Again Records, located on 201 SE First St., has survived two locations, two owners and a pandemic. Now, the store has a milestone to celebrate: its 30th anniversary.

The store opened in 1994, first owned by Perry Johnson. Andrew Schaer started working there in 1995 and became the owner in 2006; he’s kept it ever since.

“When I started working,” Schaer said, “CD was king.”

The store originally sold CDs and DVDs, only switching its main inventory to vinyl when it moved to its current location in 2009. As Schaer explained, sales decreased as the burning of discs became more common. While this was happening, vinyl started to make its comeback.

“It was a decision I was happy to forcibly make,” Schaer said of the switch.

In the years since, the popularity of vinyl records continued to increase; they now make up the majority of Schaer’s inventory. The store’s clientele has similarly changed over time. In the last five to seven years, Schaer has noticed more high school and college-age kids coming to the store, he said.

“We see an increase every year of younger folks buying records,” he said.

Albums on display at Hear Again Records. (Michael Tubbs/ WUFT News)
Albums on display at Hear Again Records. (Michael Tubbs/ WUFT News)

For Susana Curulla, a University of Florida student, records are more than just a way to listen to music — they’re a portal to the past.

“There’s been a big cultural revival with especially vintage stuff,” she said. “Everybody now really wants to get back in touch with previous generations. This is a great way to do it.”

UF student Elijah Zarsadias likes everything the store has to offer. “Just look at everything. I like the vibes,” he said.

Compared to other record stores, Zarsadias said this one is special. “There is a lot more energy in here cause there’s a lot more posters,” Zarsadias said. “There’s magic in here.”

To stay open long enough to see this shift in clientele, the store has had to overcome different challenges throughout its 30 years. Its continued existence is a feat in itself; research from the insurance industry advising site Zebra found only 5% of small businesses make it longer than 30 years.

One of the most notable challenges was the COVID-19 pandemic. It forced Hear Again to close for two months. Outside of the shutdown, once the store opened back up, it was able to do well because of its proactive approach for people’s safety, according to Schaer.

His current concerns for the business involve city parking. In August, Gainesville will be changing the free parking outside the store to paid parking. Schaer fears a negative impact on record sales — the same one he saw during the city’s trial run of paid parking in the area in 2022.

“I can only assume it would [happen] again,” he said.

While the summer months typically mark the slow season, the store didn’t see a major slump in sales last year. Schaer said he was pleased with the community; he isn’t worried about business slowing down too much this summer.

“It’s important, in order to preserve the longevity of record stores,” he said, “to be able to appeal to a crowd that’s very diverse in terms of age.”

He isn’t worried about retirement, either, at least not anytime soon. He could see a 50th anniversary happening in another 20 years, he said. To keep the shop open that long, he knows he’ll have to keep having something for everyone.

Michael is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing