MANILA -- With today’s state-of-the-art gadgets, one would think that vinyl records are a thing of the past. Surprisingly, however, there are many avid fans who still value their record collections and there are also those who consistently look for new finds to add to their stash.
One such store that caters to people with a keen interest on collecting vinyl is Northwest Estate and Collectibles (NEC), owned by architect-turned-businessman Jose “Jong” Canimo.
It was in Washington state, where Canimo brought his love for music and “everything old and magnificent” to the next level, by offering collectors a diverse selections of LP records, gear, model vehicles and more at friendly prices.
When he came back from the US in 1995, Canimo started to ship records to Manila, as advised by his friends. “It was short-lived and I ended up with literally thousands of albums stuck in my mom’s house and two storage lockers,” he recalled. “I joined monthly record shows and fairs to unload until 1999, when I opened my account on eBay under the user name postalwax and a store called Northwest Estate and Collectibles.”
His first sale was “The White Album” by The Beatles that sold for $9.99. “Word got around my area that I was a power seller,” Canimo beamed. “I started to accept consignments from anyone with a substantial size collection of any kind. I started to sell stamps, toys, rare books, pottery, glassware, militaria, comic, pretty much the entire list of categories on eBay.”
Back in Manila, Canimo was into construction and project management. He was a graduate of BS Architecture from University of the Philippines-Diliman. He was a licensed architect until 1999. Since then, he did not renew his license after having migrated to the US. The last project he did in Manila before he uprooted was Studebaker’s Club along Ayala Avenue in Makati.
Starting in 2014 in Singalong and Capitan Ticong Street in Manila, NEC has since branched out in Conchu and Estrada Streets in Malate, K-1st Street in Kamuning and the latest branch in BF Paranaque (along the busy Aguirre Street), right in the heart of the village that’s teeming with restaurants, bars, banks, groceries and even beauty parlors and barber shops.
It has been five years now since NEC opened its doors. From a simple apartment store with visits “by appointments only,” the store has grown to a two-storey retail facility that houses more than 30,000 records and countless numbers of vintage toys, music-themed and automotive-themed decors, unique housewares and other fine collectibles.
Last Saturday, October 19, NEC celebrated its fifth anniversary of opening in the Philippines. “We are retracing our steps back to the south as we opened our second branch, this time along Aguirre Street in BF Paranaque,” Canimo said.
This 2019 also marks the 20th year that Canimo started his eBay store under the seller name “postalwax.”
The difference of NEC Parañaque from NEC Kamuning is that the BF branch will carry a lot of rare pieces, with some coming directly from Canimo’s own collection that he is slowly moving to Manila, where he eventually plans to retire.
More than 10,000 titles are on display at the NEC Paranaque store, including ones released on first pressing or the year the record came out. Of course, the price varies, like The Clash at P2,500, The Beatles’ two-LP anniversary edition at P3,000 or Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” at second pressing, with the name credited to master engineer Robert Ludwig, that fetches P9,000.
There are records by Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Dave Grusin, B.B. King, and Motley Crue. There are OPM records of Hotdog sold at P10,000 or Sampaguita at P9,000. There are also albums by Imelda Papin, Asin and Pilita Corrales – all in good condition. You get to test the records on the turntables inside the store before purchase. There are also vintage turntables on sale in the store.
Credit cards are accepted even at the newly opened NEC store. They also accept pre-orders on full payment through G-Cash or any credit card. The items can be picked up or conveniently delivered through Grab Express or La La Move. An Advanced Payment Program for a minimum of P3,000 serves as a wallet for customers and is consumable in the store.
For loyal customers, NEC interestingly offers a “birthday promo” that started back in 2016. A customer celebrating his/her birthday can purchase anything from the store at 50 percent off, upon showing a valid ID. He/she can even bring a companion, who can also enjoy the same promo on the birthday of the friend.
Aside from records, NEC also offers CDs, tapes, audio gear, comic books, trading cards, model kits, die-cast toys, vintage items and a whole lot of cabinets full of curiosities.
Canimo’s childhood ambition was to become a businessman or a dentist. He wasn’t sidetracked, really. “Architecture was my first choice, dentistry was second,” he disclosed. “I got accepted in both courses. But where I am now? Selling records and collectibles. I guess you can say now, it’s a combination of two things I’m passionate about, business and music.”
He is proud about his “faithful and honest staff” and his very good business partner, who happens to be his college blockmate, when they were freshmen in UP.
NEC is duly authorized to sell digital media by the Optical Media Board (OMB). “We remain faithful to our commitment to sell only original, authorized, genuine digital media in our store,” Canimo maintained. “If it ain’t the real thing, it ain’t NEC. At NEC, you always get the real thing, backed by the manufacturers and recording companies.”
Unauthorized, unlicensed or “bootlegged” digital media is of sub-standard quality and can severely damage the equipment that plays it, he noted. “It has always been the company policy of NEC to carry only original, authorized, fully-licensed material in its inventory. Any sort of copied, pirated, illicit, unofficial media is forbidden.”
Understandably, Canimo values his personal collection of records. Some of the titles from his own collection are Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s “Mysteries of the World,” his complete set of MFSL original releases, test pressings, acetates and rare promotional full-length albums. “What makes them special is that they’re extremely difficult to find and procure,” he said.
Top-of-mind customers for Canimo are celebrity singers Joey Generoso (Side A), Jugs Jugueta (Itchyworms) and Medwin Marfil (True Faith). Ely Buendia, Teddy Corpuz (Rocksteddy), Mike Luis (Freestyle), Jed Madela, actor-director Edgar Mortiz and even PBA players Glenn Capacio and Wilmer Ong have also bought records at the store.
Shipping delays, traffic and bad weather are the normal problems that NEC encounters in running its business. Yet, Canimo remains optimistic that even after the opening of their BF Paranaque store, they can put up two more locations – one in Visayas and another in Mindanao.
The best part about what Canimo does, as he constantly finds the next great dig, is the excitement of what the next flip of the record would be. “Check out my recent video I posted last September 24. That, I think, captures that excitement,” he said.
His tips for young people who want to build their own collection?
“Buy small to start your collection and by then, it’s okay to just buy the stuff you know and value,” he advises. “Then grow your collection from there.”
Before they know it, they will grow into becoming passionate music mavens proud about their own collection.