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Record Store Day wasn’t started to celebrate records, it was started to celebrate record stores. As the generations cycle onward, as the music industry constantly shifts and adapts, and as vinyl continues to stake its claim as the enduring physical format, I know it to be true that brick-and-mortar record shops are as important as ever to their communities and the music fans in their orbits.
Recounting the myriad ways that going to and working at record stores have changed my own life would undoubtedly be a #longread or perhaps even a novella filled with record store stories. I’ve been exposed to an unfathomably vast variety of music, some of which has led me to shows and/or going on trips for shows that were similarly life altering.
I’ve overcome teenage shyness (and angst), made literally hundreds of friends and met some of the most important people in my entire life, met some really cool famous people, created jobs, gotten involved in my wider community, and essentially grown up. The popular quote from Nick Hornby’s book High Fidelity is 100 percent true: “Record stores can’t save your life. But they can give you a better one.”
In my case they might have actually saved my life.
Record Store Day officially happens every April and the 10th one is this Saturday across the US and the world. This year’s ambassador is St. Vincent, and she happens to be the first female RSD ambassador, which makes us extra happy at Sweat Records, a lady-owned and operated shop. There are hundreds of exclusive, limited edition vinyl releases coming out that only indie stores who fit certain criteria and sign a pledge of conduct can order. It’s a lot of work and financial outlay, quantities are limited, and allotments can be tricky, but in the end it’s always a great day where hundreds of thousands of music fans around the world go home happy.
For the past few years there’s also been Record Store Day Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving which also offers exclusive releases to indies. Those two events are great but we need your support all year! Here are some other ways that you can support your local shop year-round:
- Go on a record store date! Your local shop is a great place to go with someone you’re getting to know better. Bond over conversation about music you both love and be catty together about what you hate. True love may transpire.
- Teach the children. Nothing makes us happier than seeing parents, aunts, uncles, and other grown-ups taking tweens and teens to our store. If you’re a person with good taste in music, it’s basically your duty to make sure that the youth in your life has better taste than their friends. It’s how the circle of music lovers remains unbroken.
- Get turned on. Yes, all music ever is currently available at the tap of a touchscreen. Yes, we know that records can be purchased via the interwebs. BUT, walking into a store and flipping through the bins can often deliver a record into your hands that will flip your whole script. A couple of years ago the industry moved new release day from Tuesdays to Fridays, so Fridays after work is a great time to pass by and pick up some new jams for the weekend.
- Use them. Most record stores offer special orders, turntable and gear repairs (or can at least point you in the right direction), help tracking down rarities, recommendations of bands for events, and a variety of other services. Think of calling your local shop first for any music-related needs you might have.
- Buy stuff. New records have slim margins and great older/used records are harder and harder to come by. If you pop into a shop and don’t happen to find a record you like that day, maybe pick up a t-shirt or another local souvenir to support. (P.S. Asking a mom&pop shop for a discount is not a great look.)Thank you for reading.
We hope to see you around Sweat soon and Happy RSD!