Cracker Barrel Joins the Vinyl 'Revolution'

Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
The first Cracker Barrel store in 1969 locatedĀ in Lebanon, Tenn.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, the Southern-themed retailer and roadside restaurant chain with a long track record in country, bluegrass and faith-based CD sales, has officially entered the still-booming vinyl market for the first time, with an exclusive numbered collector's edition of country duo Joey & Rory's Hymns That Are Important To Us.

The vinyl version of Joey + Rory’s Hymns is expected in late March or early April. Joey Feek, who died of cancer on March 4, saw her 22-month health battle go global via the blog husband Rory maintained throughout, called “This Life I Live."

While Cracker Barrel declines to break out music sales figures, the company's 635 locations in 42 states tallied $764 million in revenue for the just-ended second fiscal quarter of 2016. Nashville-based promo team FlyteVu, the agency guiding Cracker Barrel’s music program, says the goal isn't just to cultivate retro appeal through vinyl but to help its more reticent customers join the digital revolution as well.

"We all know, eventually, CDs are going to go away, so it's our job to help them navigate the future," says FlyteVu co-founder Jeremey Holley, who was formerly svp of consumer and interactive marketing at Warner Music Nashville. For Holley, a digital expert, the path is clear: "Our job is to connect brands to consumers at the intersection of music and technology. We are moving them into the digital landscape." Playlist cards, streams and partnerships with more artists outside the country sphere are also in the works. 

Next month the company will continue its music push when it sponsors the Academy of Country Music Awards' Content Curator Studio -- a digital initiative for artists backstage at the ACMs.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story pegged the number of Cracker Barrel locations at 630. There are now 635.