Record Store Day: Checking in with the Stores

Tomorrow is Record Store Day, your chance to wait in line for the opportunity to buy some rare vinyl records. We’ve already given you the low down on the Phish Junta package, previewed some of the products on Twitter and profiled our Top 5 releases. We were also able to chat with a few record stores from across the country, including Criminal Records where Record Store Day was first hatched.

Now in its fifth year, Record Store Day is bigger than ever. We wanted to reach out to a few independent purveyors of physical music products and get their take on the current state of RSD. Up first is Eric Levin Record Store Day co-founder and owner of Criminal Records.

HT: What is the best aspect of Record Store Day?

Eric Levin: The global and local celebrations are amazing. While I’m enjoying my own party, I know that the fun is happening coast to coast and around the world.

Like, while Patterson Hood and Drive-By Truckers are playing at my store in Atlanta, World Party are playing at Fingerprints in Long Beach, California. When this was first discussed five years ago, we had no idea anyone would care, and now, it’s just unbelievable.

HT: What is the worst aspect of Record Store Day?

EL: Greed. Some labels, some stores, some customers – well, you can’t make people be decent. Stores can help by ordering accordingly, if they think an item isn’t worthy of attention, it’s their duty to not purchase – the same is true for the customer. Store can help by treating their customers with the utmost respect, i.e. no price gouging, no eBay, no favors or holds, limit one item per customer and just have a fun time. This is what we do at our store, I wish and hope that others could act accordingly. That was the purpose of our “pledge,” just be cool and act cool and you have no problems.

HT: What prompted the implementation of the Record Store Day pledge, and are you seeing support for it?

EL: It’s definitely supported, and needed. I believe that if folks have a good relationship, a 365 day relationship with their store, they know they’ll be taken care of treated right. Everyone knows who the bad eggs are in their towns. Don’t support them if they’re dicks, support them if they are awesome.

HT: How does Record Store Day influence the other 364 days of the year?

EL: I love being in touch with over 800 U.S. stores, when something goes down now, we can amass an army. We have a definite need to curate and protect an entire culture, not just indie record stores, but all indie businesses. I think we’ve proven that folks care for their communities and hopefully, as we’ve seen happen, we can inspire other small businesses to celebrate themselves. We shine a light all year on the plight of the indie, that’s important now more than ever.

HT: What releases for this year have you excited?

EL: My staff, myself included, we can’t shop until the next day. I’m hoping for a Lee Scratch Perry 7″ box and the Lee Hazelwood box from Light in the Attic. 12XU have an amazing LP out of Austin, it’s really limited but I want a blue one. The Smuggler’s Way ‘zine package from Domino is awesome and I sure would love a Gorillaz 10″ but I won’t get one, they only have 500 for the U.S. Criminal Records was lucky to receive one. Of course, the Mastodon pieces to go with all my others. And the Flaming Lips, of course. Thankfully, they pressed 10,000 of those, so everyone will have a shot. I just want the 13 minute version of the Gorillaz song – that should be a perennial title, it’s stupid that I can’t order 100 for the store and receive 100, but it’s not like a record label would ever listen to advice.

We also interviewed Paul Epstein, owner of Twist & Shout which has been independently operating in Denver since 1998.

HT: What is the best aspect of Record Store Day?

Paul Epstein: The excitement. Seeing 350 people lined up before we open, seeing people wig out in the aisles when they find what they are looking for, seeing fans compare their stashes after it’s all over. It’s a really nice feeling and a reminder of what it was like when every day was record store day.

HT: What is the worst aspect of Record Store Day?

PE: Not everybody gets every single thing they want. We hate to run out of anything when people are still looking for it. On the other hand, scarcity is sort of the secret ingredient of collecting, and the thing that downloading has robbed from fans. But having people not get that one certain item and being disappointed is the worst aspect.

HT: You signed the Record Store Day pledge, what compelled you to do so and what do you think about the need for such a pledge?

PE: We were asked to sign it and it seemed to me like it was largely rules that prevented stores from gouging customers so I signed. It seemed a bit heavy handed but I have seen stuff going for crazy prices on Ebay so perhaps it is the right thing. Anytime there is something cool and limited there will be people who will try to monopolize and unfairly profit from that item, so it is probably for the best that there are some rules to govern the process.

HT: How does Record Store Day influence the other 364 days of the year?

PE: Well, it helps restore that scarcity thing I was mentioning. It makes fans realize that some things are hard to get, and it is really cool when you get your hands on one of those things and it can act as a physical manifestation of your love for that band. That can raise the overall profile of records and the collecting of music. Obviously, we like that because that is what we are all about.

HT: What releases for this year have you excited?

Buck Owens coloring book, Pharcyde 7″ Box Set, Lee Perry Box Set, Grateful Dead, White Stripes, Phish, Ryan Adams….it goes on and on and on.

Finally we questioned Matt Jencik, buyer at Reckless Records in Chicago. Reckless has three locations in Chicago and has been operating in the city since 1989.

HT: What is the best aspect of Record Store Day?

Matt Jencik: Seeing the store full of unfamiliar faces. The publicity definitely seems to bring awareness about record stores to people, especially to younger kids who might not have record stores in their neighborhood or town anymore.  I’ve gotten the impression in past years that some people who came out had barely ever stepped into a record store in their entire life. If Record Store Day is their first experience, that’s fine with us.

HT: What is the worst aspect of Record Store Day?

MJ: For me personally as the person in charge of ordering the product, it bothers me to have to turn people away because we sold out of something or in some cases, just didn’t receive at all.

HT: You signed the Record Store Day pledge, what compelled you to do so and what do you think about the need for such a pledge?

MJ: We signed the pledge because we want our customers to know that they have as good a chance as anybody to get these records and that Record Store Day is really about rewarding the customer with cool records.  Ebay flipping is unavoidable but we don’t participate in that in any way.

HT: How does Record Store Day influence the other 364 days of the year?

MJ: It doesn’t really. In a way the original concept is strange to us as we do this every day. Hopefully people look at Record Store Day as a celebration of the fact that record stores are here and still going strong the other 364 days.

HT: What releases for this year have you excited?

MJ: The release we’re most excited about isn’t a record or cd. It’s the Three Floyds Brewing/Reckless Records beer that we’re releasing in honor of Record Store Day. It’s called Rye’d Da Lightning and it will be available at the Bottom Lounge at a show that night. Reckless also has a few exclusive releases including Ropes Demos II 7″ (Reckless Exclusive), Holy Fever “7″ colored vinyl (Reckless Exclusive) Integrity “Palm Sunday” (Exclusive at Reckless in Chicago and only two other shops in the U.S.!), Atlas Moth Pray For Tides/One Amongst The Weed Fields” cassette at the Broadway [Reckless] location only! Some of the official Record Store Day releases that we’re excited about are the Lee Hazlewood compilation, the Grateful Dead ‘Dark Star” LP, the Fleetwood Mac 2x45RPM LP, the Iggy & the Stooges “Raw Power” 2XLP reissue, the Scientists 7″, the Bitchin’ Bajas, the live Devo LP etc…

Are you heading out for Record Store Day? Let us know what releases you’re after in the comment or send a tweet to @Hidden_Track using the hashtag #RSD2012. Be sure to grab the official RSD app and good luck digging!

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One thought on “Record Store Day: Checking in with the Stores

  1. Dayjob1978 Reply

    I ended up with James Brown, GD and Yim Yames, Jay Farrar, et al. Struck on out Junta

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