Blue Arrow Records and Books is all about vinyl

from and the Plain Dealer: April 10, 2009
by Laura DeMarco, Plain Dealer Friday! Magazine Editor


You could spend hours just looking at the floor at Blue Arrow Records and Books in Collinwood.


The floor of the newly opened record store on Waterloo Road — and I do mean records, just records, no CDs — is composed of more than 1,000 tiled album covers owner Pete Gulyas laid by hand.

Look, here’s T Rex. Now I’m standing on Pat Benatar. Oooh, I love that Alex Harvey Band record. Wow, check out the hot Ray Charles Singers cover.

You get the picture.

“If I don’t hear someone saying something about at least one album on the floor, then I think something’s wrong,” says Gulyas, who also owns This Way Out vintage store down the street underneath the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern with his wife, Debbie. They previously owned the stellar Renaissance Parlor vintage store on Coventry Road.

It took him 200 hours to complete the floor, which is grouped into themes such as “drinking covers,” “smoking covers” and types of music. For records that he ranks as “good,” he made sure he had another copy before tearing off the front. Other LPs were sacrificed for art.

So what about the records in the bins? Well, there are about 7,000 of them, and all are vintage, says Gulyas. Prices range from 50 cents to around $12, including classic rock, alt-rock, punk, camp classics, lots of glam, 1950s and ’60s swank, jazz, blues and country.

Gulyas, who will continue selling LPs at This Way Out, says he started the store because he and many of his collector friends “wanted to clean house.”

But he adds that he and other store owners, including the staff at Music Saves a block away, have noticed “people are definitely more into vinyl now than a few years ago.” (Music Saves sells only new vinyl. Yes, new music is being pressed onto vinyl. More and more, in fact.)

Gulyas credits this to the fact that, “despite what we were told, CDs start to break down. Vinyl retains its sound. And people love the artwork.”

It’s not all about vinyl here, though. Gulyas also has a rack of vintage music and pop-culture mags, from Creem to Rolling Stone, and racks of pulp-fiction novels with titles such as “Wanton Woman” and “French Fever.” The front case holds rows of retro sunglasses and Nita Ketner’s funky Backstage Pass pendants featuring rock icons such as Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix.

And there’s a shrine, of sorts, dedicated to the Boss. Though most of it is not for sale, record fans should find the case dedicated to Bruce Springsteen fascinating, from old 45s and photos to “Darkness on the Edge of Town”-era posters.

The back of the store features a small stage area for special events. The next one will be Saturday, April 18, when the Prisoners play at 6 p.m. and Hotchacha takes the stage at 7 in honor of National Record Store Day.

Shopping list, Music Saves:

Just down the street from Blue Arrow, Music Saves CD and record store will celebrate National Record Store Day in conjunction with Gulyas’ store. Performing will be Brian Straw at 5:30 p.m., Trouble Books at 6:30 and the Very Knees at 7:30. Also that day, come into the store wearing an indie record store T-shirt and get 10 percent off your purchase. And make a purchase and receive a free goody bag. 15801 Waterloo Road. 216-481-1875.

To reach this Plain Dealer columnist:, 216-999-4577