continued Then he found himself jobless in the mid-1970s.
“I knew I had to do something,” he said.
So he decided to begin collecting records more seriously and selling them out of his home. His home business progressed until he had a watershed moment with one large purchase for $400.
“At one point in time I bought 35,000 7” singles from a jukebox dealer who was going out of business,” he said. “So that kind of set me off. I pulled about 3,000 items from there for stock so I had instant inventory. I traded with a number of people. Just put one step in front of the other — just kept doing it.”
Work took him on many trips to Europe and England to gather inventory. He would go for a few weeks four times a year and visit dealers, record shops, record fairs, wholesalers and private collectors.
“I did about 75 trips over there,” he said. “England I probably prefer to the rest of the countries on the continent. The English are very funny. They had a great sense of humor and most of the guys who owned record shops over there always like to end their days in the pub. That was always agreeable with me. The pubs are a way of life over there.”
He came to Syracuse in 1984 and started his store, Knuckleheads, in North Syracuse on Main Street not too long after. The shop sold vinyl albums and CDs but went out of business around the turn of the millennium because it couldn't compete with bigger chains
But Wolak stuck with his love for vinyl.
“Once I closed the store, I just kind of refocused turned it into strictly mail order and refocused on vinyl,” he said. “It just seemed to be the right thing to do”