Tape decks, Walkmans and other cassette tape players one sees in pawn shops and garage sales are not merely retro-looking junk for sci-fi themed parties, they also play music. And a company in Springfield, Mo. is having a big year in sales with cassette tapes — something that hasn’t seriously been said since 1989. According to Bloomberg News that is.
Yes, cassette tapes — those plastic rectangle doohickeys that music nerds in the 80s and 90s like me used to make mix tapes (taping songs off the radio, CDs, vinyl, ect. It was a time when one had to actually seek out music — not every song ever made was found within seconds on the Web). They were clunky, stereo-jamming-prone little buggers that became the most mobile way to listen to music at the time. CD players at home and for vehicles, along with the Discman made these things pretty much obsolete by the mid-to-late 90s, but apparently there is still a demand for them.
According to Bloomberg News, “NAC (National Audio Company) is the largest and one of the few remaining manufacturers of audio cassettes in the U.S. The profitable company produced more than 10 million tapes in 2014 and sales are up 20 percent this year.” Yes, tapes are still being made and are apparently selling pretty well.
Like the vinyl boom of recent years, it seems a lot of the interest in these things can be traced to the disturbing hipster trend of loving anything “retro,” and the more ridiculous that retro thing is, the more these worshipers of irony seem to love them.
“Probably the thing that has really enlarged our business at a faster phase than anything is the retro movement,” NAC President Steve Stepp said in the Bloomberg story. “There’s the nostalgia of holding the audio cassette in your hand.”
Look out for a huge pencil boom related to this, because when those tapes start getting all tangled up, you will need a solid No. 2 to twist the cassette’s tape back to normal.