Retro Tech

For that person confounded by technology, how about a manual typewriter?

It's 2004, but there are those among us who prefer the crack and pop of an old record player over the polished sound of an iPod, or a rotary dial telephone instead of Verizon wireless. So if you're shopping for one of these technophobes who think a gigabyte requires a course of antibiotics, here are a few local businesses that have found it very profitable to live in the past:

The Goodwill store (1400 S. Lane St., 206-329-1000) is a cornucopia of technology and bric-a-brac from yesteryear and is one of Seattle's best thrift stores. This is where once-cutting-edge technology goes to die, though when sifting through the piles of old appliances and gadgets in the gymnasium-sized store, it's hard to imagine someday seeing old Nintendo GameCubes and PalmPilots lying around with $2 price tags.

Some of the treasures found here include a turn-of-the-century cast iron Remington manual typewriter for $19.99, an old-fashioned Pentron magnetic tape recorder for $39.99, and a Kodak Electric 8mm Zoom Camera for $2.99.

Gary Foy, a worker at the thrift store, says old speakers and super-8mm cameras are the best sellers because they're made well and are hard to find.

J&S (1028 N.E. 65th St., 206-524-2933) is one of the last places to buy record players in Seattle. Prices range between $130 and $350. The store even has a $600 RCA phonograph manufactured by the Victor Talking Machine Co. The store also offers repair service and spare parts like needles and belts. "We try to stock everything around the turntable," says Jim Goff, who runs the business with his wife, Sharron.

The Goffs also sell rare and out-of-print vinyl records. One of the more unusual finds is a $25 autographed Hulk Hogan LP, featuring songs by the Hulkster and other famous professional wrestlers from the 1980s. I also found a $175 limited edition Elvis Costello record and an E.T. soundtrack for $25.

The Landing (6319 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-524-5747) offers a wide selection of vinyl records with more up-to-date titles and artists. Elizabeth Geist, who runs the shop with her husband, Rick, says demand for records has grown in recent years, and it's easier to find artists on vinyl nowadays. "It never went away," she says. "I think rap and hip-hop kept it alive during the slim years." People are attracted to records because the technology has a distinctive quality that CDs and digital music lack. "I think it's a warmer sound," Geist says. "I think it's also the experience of [seeing] the record. It's much more visual."

Gillis Clock & Watch (12325 Lake City Way N.E., 888- 722-1176) is a great place to find antique pocket watches and grandfather and wall clocks. Antique pocket watches range in price from $39 to $1,875. Vintage wall clocks range from $24 to $2,350. The most striking feature in the store is a large, 300-year-old Danish grandfather clock, which costs $3,800. Donna Gillis, the store's owner, says people are drawn to her antique clocks and watches because they are built for longevity, whereas modern timepieces are not. "The thing is, will it be around 40 years from now?" she says when I show her the date and time feature on my Nokia cell phone. "No."

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