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John Lee Hooker's loud, bluesy tune "The Healer" plays on a turntable as Diran Mardirian smokes a rolled-up cigarette, the ambiance of his DVD store's second floor turning into an almost surreal setting, a long way from modern-day Beirut.In fact, the entire second floor at film store Chico is replete with vinyl records, from Pink Floyd and The Cure to Patti Smith, The Allman Brothers and Ella Fitzgerald.Chico, established in 1964 by Mardirian's father Khatchig, was initially a record store, still located in the middle of bustling Beirut. Then several years ago, Mardirian felt the sudden urge to grow his old vinyl collection. He began importing records from abroad and trying to find more albums in Lebanon, which was not an easy task because music stores normally only stock small numbers of such vinyl records.Those shops didn't think of their limited record collections as serious business, Mardirian said. The store now has between 8,000 and 10,000 records.Mardirian's love for music is hard to miss, let alone his love for vinyl records.Mardirian did not deny that an online presence was nowadays essential not only for his local customers, but also to reach vinyl record enthusiasts globally.
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