Local Record Stores Make It Groovy in the Digital Age
The year is 2014 and we are living in a time when we can access music with just the click of a button or a tap on your phone. For music lovers, I-Tunes has been the replacement for getting your hands on a newly released album.
Others will search for a free download if they don’t have the money to make a purchase. It’s that kind of easy access that makes CDs, cassette tapes and records seemingly obsolete.
Now that we are living in these digital times where one can shop online, where does that leave the neighborhood record store? Have the music lovers disappeared one decade at a time? Or are they still around but have a different reason to purchase records?
While some still go to Borders, FYE, or Best Buy, there are others who go to the humble corner record store to appreciate the atmosphere and the music.
Though times have changed, the record store business is still viable. For John Hiatt, owner of Remember When Records on High Point Road in Greensboro, his collection of 150,000 records still holds value.
“We run a good business here,” said Hiatt. “You can’t pay the bills if you can’t run the profit.”
Remember When opened its doors in 1989, and 25 years later, they still run strong with their vast collection of records, cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, and VHS. It is the oldest in Greensboro.
Over at Center For Better Groove record store on Chapman Street, storeowner Ian Wagner bought the store in December 2013.
“Business is good, and it’s getting better since I recently took over,” said Wagner.
FOR THE LOVE OF MUSIC
For Wagner, the love of music must be at the forefront in order to make a suc cessful profit. He acquired a vision for bringing CFBG Records back to life.
“It’s a balance of both, but you can’t run a successful record store without having the love of music,” said Wagner. “Love has to come first before making a profit. One has to come before the other.
Over in Winston-Salem at Jukebox Oldies on Knollwood Street, owner Patrick Boyles had his love by collecting records for 35 years before running a store of his own.
“I have a lot of record collections.
I’ve been collecting since college,” said Boyles. “You have to have the knowledge of music.”
His passion stems from a love of Jukebox Oldies. Boyles would travel out of the state to see singing groups from the 1950s and 60s still performing songs that put their career on the map. After the shows he gets them to sign his collected album. He was also a correspondent for Rocking 50s Magazine where he would interview certain singing groups and take photos.
THE STAND OUT
According to Hiatt over at Remember When, there is more to being a successful record store than just collecting LPs. It’s all about the quality of what the customers are getting.
“Most young people don’t understand that you have to clean and grate the records so they won’t scratch and tear up the cartridge and needle,” said Hiatt.
Hiatt explains how most people who come in wanting to sell records can’t get a sale because the LP is scratched up. Every single record is cleaned and grated through a cleaning machine that looks like a turntable. You place the record inside and it checks and cleans for scratches and vacuums away dust.
On every album cover there’s a stamp placed in the corner that gives proof that it’s been cleaned. It also shows how good it plays with a letter grade, whether it plays very well or if it plays well with minor scratches, and the year of the album and the price.
For many record stores, customers come from within the community, or out of the city, state and from around the world. Hiatt gets customers from Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta and beyond.
“Most customers know the difference, so they get a good quality,” said Hiatt.
Record stores such as Jukebox Oldies and CFBG that are located near a college or university, get younger customers. Wagner stated that besides regulars stopping by, the store gets a lot of traffic by being the first search on Google. A lot of traffic comes from word of mouth.
“A fair mix of older people are getting back to music, but a lot of the younger generation come here,” said Wagner. “Record stores that are close to a university get good profit. Vinyl is coming back. To the younger generation, the vinyl attracts them.”
Jukebox Oldies is located near Wake Forest University. Older people and college students come by to check out the vintage. They also have a jukebox that attracts the students. They pick a song to play while they continue to shop or just enjoy the music.
Whether it’s the older generation that wants to go back in time with their favorite oldies, or the new generation that goes for the vinyl as a collector’s item or having them as a source for mixing on the turntables, everyone appreciates the vintage record store.
On the third Saturday of April every year, there is a national Record Store Day when music lovers come to celebrate the independent record store nationally and internationally.
Want to check out a record that’s near you? Here are the following record stores that are up and running:
Remember When Records 2901 High Point Road Greensboro NC 27403 (336) 297-1999 CFBG 930 S Chapman Street Greensboro NC 27403 (336) 451-8945
Ultimix Records 3404 W Wendover Avenue Greensboro NC 27407 (336) 288-7566
Hippo Records 2823 Spring Garden Street Greensboro NC 27403 (336) 420-4871
Mager Muvez Entertainment 405 Guilford College Road Greensboro NC 27409 (336) 988-4831
WINSTON-SALEM Earshot (Formerly known as Record Exchange) 3254 Silas Creek Parkway Winston-Salem NC 27103 (336) 765-2009
Might Quinn Music 3722 Reynolda Road Winston-Salem NC 27106 (336) 995-0813
Jukebox Oldies 120 Reynolda Village Winston-Salem NC 27106 (336) 408-8383
Underdog Records 3443 Robinhood Road Winston-Salem NC 27106 (336) 893-7293
HIGH POINT Twin City Records Management
1435 Bethel Drive High Point NC 27260 (336) 885-1335 !