Former mayor finds his passion bringing jukeboxes back to life
NEWPORT, Minn. (KMSP) - For many, music is a work of passion. But for one Minnesota man, his passion is now his work.
Dan Coulter is turning back the clock and bringing the grandeur, the lights and the music back to old and broken jukeboxes.
In his 53 years, Coulter has done everything from running a cable access channel to becoming a small town mayor. But these days, inside the tiny storefront in a Newport strip mall, he is taking his lifelong passion for a spin.
“I love music and machines, so it’s a perfect blending of the two,” Coulter said.
Coulter takes vintage jukeboxes from the 30s to the 90s and restores them to their former glory.
"Some of them come in pretty wretched. Some come in from the barn with bird droppings on them and pretty horrible, missing parts [and] rusty. Everything is stuck and doesn't work,” Coulter said. "[But] as long as it takes a coin, we can work on them."
Coulter repaired his first jukebox when he was 12 and spent the next four decades tinkering with them in his spare time.
"Literally years of my life I’ve spent working on this stuff,” Coulter said.
So he decided to open his own showroom last year, becoming one of the few vintage jukebox repair shops in the country.
"I’m not going to get wealthy doing this,” Coulter said. “It’s not a business for that. You have to do it because it’s a labor of love."
But Coulter doesn't just refurbish these pieces of the past; he prepares them for the future with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. He even makes house calls.
"These things are pretty big and they are pretty heavy and so people like it when we come over and they don't have to pull things out of the basement,” Coulter said.
Just like the music they play, jukeboxes have changed over the years. But as long as they're around, Coulter will make sure make they never skip a beat.
"It’s a passion of mine to keep these machines going so that future generations can appreciate something from a bygone era because it will never come back again,” Coulter said.
Coulter already has about 1,500 customers and he's booked out four to six weeks. However, its painstaking work. A full restoration can take up to a year.