Guallino Madelin was a member of France’s National Athletics team competing in track and field. Alongside all of this, he also created Vinyl Street, an online record store. He’s since hung up his running spikes and focuses on Vinyl Street full time now. Discogs caught up with him to learn a little more about keeping his competitive spirit as a record seller.
Discogs: Take us right back to your early days. What are your first musical memories? What was playing in the house when you were a kid?
Guallino Madelin: My mother is Italian so she listened to obvious national choices like Luciano Pavarotti etc., but then also singers like Astrud Gilberto, France Gall, and Maria Callas. From my father’s side, he listened to a lot of English rock and American soul, so artists like Otis Redding or The Beatles were ingrained in me. Aside from these influences, my brother’s musical taste rubbed off on me the most. He put me onto Jamaican soundsystem stuff [like] hip-hop and dancehall. Artists like Bounty Killer, Mad Cobra Garnett Silk, Coco Tea, Rakim, Big L, Raggasonic … It was thanks to him that I discovered the more energetic urban sound, music that has stuck with me right up to today. I must also mention my uncle, he was a music journalist for one of Marseille’s main newspapers, La Marseillaise — a great man with a big heart. Music was his whole life. In 1991, when he sadly died, we inherited his record collection, so obtaining this was not only a big influence, but also a reference and knowledge point.
D: So is this how selling records got started for you?
GM: Yes, I guess so. I slowly started selling records from around the year 2000. This was in parallel to my athletics career, initially fun to pass the time, kind of downtime if you like.
We were training and working out six days a week, so selling records allowed me to break up my routine. I wasn’t too focused on the financial side during this period as I had a contract with Adidas and I earned my living through competing.
D: How was a typical day when you had the two quite different elements of your life: running professionally and selling vinyl?
GM: A mixture of training and selling records. From 9 a.m. to midday, I’d work out with my teammates. Some of the best athletes in the world at the time were in my training group: Eunice Barber (2003 World Champion) and Cheick Touré (African long jump record-holder). We were the elites during this period so training was tough.
After lunch, I would work on my online store until around 2 p.m., then the rest of the afternoon was back in the gym or on the training field. Evenings I’d spend getting orders ready for sending out the next day.
D: What sort of music were you selling at the time?
GM: During these early days it was mainly records I imported from Jamaica and resold to European buyers through Ebay. However, I soon realized the potential of the internet, how it allowed customers from anywhere in the world to buy records from me, so it really took off from there.
In 2003, for a period of five years, I stopped selling records to focus solely on my sports. I was on the French National Team so I gave it my all. The records in my life were now in track and field and no longer on the turntable! In my peak, I jumped 7.53 meters in long jump and ran 100 meters in 10.75 seconds.
D: And then you got back into selling records?
GM: Yeah, that’s right. In 2013, I got a diploma in business from Kedge Business School in Bordeaux, so I decided to start selling again. Although this time I was more strategic and started selling all genres to reach a larger audience. This, in turn, led me to Discogs and I immediately realized the power of the platform.
D: So, seven years later, is Vinyl Street still just you, or do you have a team? If so, could you tell me a little about your colleagues?
GM: Vinyl Street is a family business. If truth be told, we actually have two stores on Discogs. I take care of Vinyl-Street and my father takes care of Untraceable-Records. We currently have a little over 75,000 records listed for sale. Our total stock is spread over five warehouses between three locations. Here in the Parisian suburbs, Lyon, and also Grasse in the south of France. The total must be somewhere around 500,000 records.
D: You’re located just outside of Paris. Do you encourage visits to your spot?
GM: I’m based in Noisy le Grand in Seine-Saint-Denis, about 15 kilometers from central Paris. People don’t come to see me and I’m fine with that. I made the decision to sell exclusively online; it brings me back to my earlier point, [and] Discogs allows people all around the world to quickly access my stock 24/7. Plus, with such a powerful search engine and a multitude of hyperlinks, it’s pointless to use my time otherwise.
Also, if I’m honest, I no longer believe in the future of the physical record store. Gradually, everyone will turn to online sales for the simple reason that it is more profitable. I think there will be a few solid record stores but many will not hold up in Paris. It has become ultra-competitive and the past has shown us that the business of music is extremely cyclical.
We are only at the beginning of online sales on the internet and I clearly think that this will be the decisive turning point in the survival of any arts of cultural-based businesses. It’s the future!
D: Do you have any personal favorite records?
GM: I actually listen to two records pretty much non-stop. Mucho Dinero by Yankee B. This record is a pure ragga hip-hop jewel, authentic street sound from New York via Kingston. Then I also hammer Garnett Silk’s Live at Reggae Sunsplash 1994, which for me is one of the best live reggae recordings. Garnett’s voice really touches my soul, he sings so beautifully.
Our Crate Minds series showcases some of the best sellers on Discogs. You’ll meet the people behind the crates (virtual and otherwise), get some insights into the life of a record seller, and learn tips on selling records from the best in the biz. You can check out Vinyl Street’s shop right here. Courtesy of Vinyl Street.