Landline Phones Find New Life With Nostalgic Fans

The first was the Rhinestone-encrusted rotary. Then cherry-red lips. After that, the cheeseburger.

By last summer, Chanel Karr had stockpiled six landline phones. The orange trimline, originally created as a promotional item for her most recent, 1986 film “Pretty in Pink”, was purchased in June. Although she has only one phone – the more pressed VTech model – is hooked up, all working in order.

“During the epidemic I wanted to disconnect from all the things that disturb you on the smartphone,” Kue said. Karr, 30, works marketing and ticketing at a music venue near his home in Ky, Alexandria. “I just wanted to get back to the original analog ways of having a landline.”

Once the kitchen staple, bedside companion and plot device on sitcoms like “Sex and the City” and “Seinfeld”, the landline phone has been replaced by its new, smart wireless counterpart.

In 2003, more than 90 percent The survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that their homes had operational landlines. By June 2021, that number – which includes Internet-connected phones and old-fashioned wired phones (via copper lines running from home to the local junction box) – has dropped. Just over 30 percent.

But like record players and VHS tapes, landline phones are embraced by nostalgic fans who say their non-scrolling and non-scrolling nature is the antidote to screen fatigue and excessive multitasking. Users say that the crescent-shaped shape of the receiver of many phones also has a more natural, comfortable fit against the cheek than the planer body of the smartphone. And with a non-cordless device, one should be more committed to the task of communication; Phone calls become more intentional.

In January, Emily Kennedy, communications manager at the Canadian Public Service, began using an old calamine-lotion-pink rotary phone from her father’s office as a way to break away from her work on social media.

Ironically, it was on Twitter where Ms. Kennedy got the idea. While Rachel Syme, a staff writer at The New Yorker, Tweeted About a landline phone she hooked up via Bluetooth in January, Ms. Kennedy was one of many who replied that Ms. Syme inspired them to set one of their own.

“Having my old phone as an item in my house is an identifying sign that I like slow motion,” Ms. Kennedy, 38, who lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Like Syme and many other modern users of analog phones, Ms. Kennedy doesn’t have her landline copper wire – so she doesn’t have her own number – but uses a Bluetooth connection to connect her to her smartphone’s cellular service. (In other words, when she’s connected, she can make cellphone calls on the landline.)

Matt Jennings has been with Old Phone Works, a company based in Kingston, Ontario, since 2011, which manufactures and sells landline phones. Now its general manager Mr. Jennings, 35, said consumer demand for candy-colored rotary phones has increased over the past two years, in the 1950s and 1960s.

“About a year and a half ago, it exploded.” Jennings said. “In the last six or seven years, we’ve got one or two orders for them, and now it’s probably one of our primary sources of revenue.”

What has inspired the recent desire for a landline phone, Mr. “It’s a return to the basics,” Jennings said. He added, “You can’t really go anywhere with a corded phone, you’re basically stuck within a three foot radius of the base. You can have a real conversation without being distracted. “

Rachel Lahabby, 37, saw a similar surge in interest in early 2021 after her Etsy store, Robert Joyce Vintage, began selling landline phones online. By October, it had become one of the most viewed products on offer, said Ms. Lahababi, who lives in Charlotte, NC

“The one I was putting in was going very fast,” she said. “I thought, ‘Well, people are clearly looking for this, so I really should focus on this trend.'”

The lip-shaped pink phone is especially popular with its customers, Ms. As well as models that are clear or neon, Lahabbi said. Also in demand: Garfield phones.

All of these styles, she added, “are probably the same as the phones they had when they were younger.”

Across Etsy, searches for the Y2K and 90s phones increased by 45 percent, and searches for rotary phones increased by 26 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, said Diana Isom Jones, the company’s trends expert.

Nicole Wilson, 32, who owns two rotary phones at her home in Manhattan: the Pink Princess and the other model, Baby Blue.

Ms. Wilson, sales director at Upfluence, an influential marketing platform, also says that the landline phone relieves its screen-heavy work. She bought her first phone in 2019 and started using it after watching Tiktok video explaining how to connect to her cellphone using Bluetooth.

While many people who have recently acquired a landline phone are using it with new technology, some prefer a more traditional approach.

Janelle Ramlinger, 37, received a landline phone for her home in Plymouth, Mass., In December 2020, after a storm disrupted cellular service in her area. She wired it to her modem, but when Ms. As Ramlinger lost power for eight days during the second storm in October, she began looking for a more reliable connection.

“I’m working to pipe in an authentic, real, old-school landline by wire,” Ms. Remlinger said.

No matter how attractive a landline phone may be, even its most ardent fans recognize that it is basically impossible to use it exclusively.

Alex McConnell, 30, a personal banker at Keybank in Fort Collins, Colo., Owns a wired Western electric rotary phone with copper lines at his home. On Feb. 14, he did not celebrate Valentine’s Day, but submitted a patent application for the telephone on the 146th anniversary of Alexander Graham Bell.

“I prepared a meal with ‘Bell’ pepper and ‘Graham’ crackers,” Mr. McConnell said. “Then I made a round cake in which I used blue icing to put Bell’s logo and the original patent number for the telephone.”

His landline phone is not only more reliable than cellphones, he said, but also encourages him to remember the phone numbers of friends, which he considers a form of intimacy.

Mr. McConnell said.

But he cannot escape the call of modern life.

“My secret sadness is that I have a cellphone.”


All Consuming is a column about things we want – and want to buy right now.

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