For the love of vinyl: Record Store Day 2018 in the Triad
Some things will never go out of style, no matter how much technology progresses. April 21 marks the 10th official year of Record Store Day, or “RSD.” According to its website (www.recordstoreday.com), 1,400 independent record store owners came together and conceived the idea for RSD in 2007 and on April 19, 2008, the first one took place.
At some locations, there will be sales, special releases (of both vinyl and CDs) as well as other promotional products. I went around to every Triad record store and asked what the businesses were doing to celebrate.
Vintage Audio Exchange
702 W. Main St.-F
Ed Parks used to be an employee of North State Communications. After being let go, he decided he was going to do something he liked.
“This was a hobby my entire life,” Parks said. “So I turned a hobby into a job that I enjoy. I am not here seven days a week, and I don’t plan to be. It is a Wednesday through Saturday shop and a one-man-show. So I got no one to blame except myself.”
Vintage Audio Exchange’s specialty is in audio equipment, but records have been added out of popular demand. The shop does not sell new releases, just about 35,000 used and vintage records. Parks said the forte of the shop is classic rock through the 1970s.
Parks said the typical customer ages range from 16 to 80 years old.
He said there is so much history in his store. He has records that date back to the 1930s all the way to the early 1990s.
For RSD, there will be some discounts although, Parks said he is not sure what kind of discounts he will have. You’ll have to come out and see for yourself.
“We have the equipment here to provide a great sound for your records,” he said. “We service and sell turntables and speakers. And we are a consignment shop for our records and equipment.”
1607 Battleground Ave.
Amy Ray is the media manager of McKay’s, and she has organized RSD over the last couple years. She said McKay’s has 8,000 to 10,000 records in its inventory, and that number is steadily growing.
“We do have a lot of music clientele because our CD selection is the biggest in Greensboro,” Ray said. “So we have a lot of people that come here specifically for music, and our vinyl inventory has just grown and grown. It is still rising, and it is not something that has dropped off.”
Ray said RSD is huge for McKay’s because it brings in customers that would not ordinarily come to the shop.
“I think there is a different sound that comes from vinyl that doesn’t come from CD,” she said. “I listen to vinyl at home, and I just love how it sounds, I love how the covers are so pretty and just the artwork in general. I just think it is more like a nostalgia thing, for a lot of people.”
Ray said McKay’s would be “spinning vinyl all day” and will provide pastries, coffee and other “goodies” for customers. She said the store would open at 8 a.m., but there will be a line formed around 7:30 a.m.
“We have raffles; there are some T-shirts that we are going to raffle off, and there is trade credit that I have been authorized to give away for use in the store,” she said. “Trade credit is when people sell us things and if they want to get trade credit versus cash and it’s good for anything in the store.”
2823 Spring Garden St.
Patrick Lemons is the owner of Hippo Records and has been in business for four and a half years on Spring Garden Street. Lemons said the typical customer he has noticed is everyone from 14 to 70-year-olds.
Lemons said he has 30,000 records in stock at Hippo Records. He said Hippo Records “already have the best prices in town” so there will not be any RSD sales. But Lemons said that wouldn’t stop his customers from lining up the night before (and even camping out) just to get in when it opens.
“It is cool because it is the one day a year where record stores were like they were in the ‘90s,” Lemons said. “People really care, they come out, and it’s just really a push and appreciation for recorded music. It makes people more enthusiastic like in the glory days of CDs or records, where people went out to a store and purchased a physical object. It is very nice seeing that.”
Center For Better Grooves
1827 Spring Garden St.
Ian and Becky Wagner run the Center For Better Grooves inside the Hookah Hookup building.
The Wagners had to scale back their collection (due to spacing) to only about a couple thousand records. By the end of the year, they hope to have their own space close to the University of North Carolina Greensboro.
Ian said there are two types of customers at CFBG: audiophiles, old-school folks looking for a particular pressing of a record, and what he refers to as “meat and potato” customers looking for Boston, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and other standard pressings. Ian said most of his customers are young people from the college.
For RSD, Wagner plans to have his own mini-version of it, including $1 record bins, “a couple bucks off” records and a small selection of RSD merchandise. Ian said CFBG’s RSD is somewhat linked to what Harley Lyles at Soul Relief Records is doing for Saturday.
“What I focus on more is just bringing people into the store, which was the original idea for Record Store Day.”
Ian said vinyl is still relevant because people love the gratification of having a hard copy of their music.
“If you listen to vinyl, you know the difference,” Ian said. “There’s just something particular about vinyl that is hard to quantify.”
He said that if vinyl weren’t still relevant, it would have died already.
“Cause they made every attempt to kill vinyl, and it is the same thing they are doing now with CDs,” he said. “Why would a generation now be into vinyl? It doesn’t really make sense other than having an intrinsic worth, in terms of the sound, or ‘the warmth’ as they say.”
Soul Relief Records
934-A S. Chapman St.
Harley Lyles is the owner of Soul Relief Records and will be officially opening his doors on RSD this year. Lyles has been in the vinyl business since 2000. He has bought and sold privately, and he has worked at record stores as a stocker.
Of all the record stores I went to in Greensboro, Lyles is the only one who plans to have DJs and live music (Winston-Salem’s punk band J.D. Power and The Associates will play around 5-6 p.m.) to celebrate both his opening and RSD.
Lyles said there would also be new releases of records as well as a “thousands” of $1 records available. Lyles describes his 10,000+ inventory as eclectic with “artists you’ve probably never heard of.”
But he also sells all types of music such as rock, reggae, Latin and world music.
“The typical clientele are the people who are into jazz and used records,” he said. “It is really young and old.”
He said young people are into vinyl these days because most don’t like “what is being pushed down their throats.”
“The industry is so powerful now; they take anything artists have and try to mass market it, and overproduce it,” he said.
Lyles said vinyl is still relevant in this day and age because there is still so much to learn from it. He likens the love of vinyl to be a more educational and experimental experience.
“If you become a student and stay a student of it, it becomes an endless road.”
Remember When Records & Videos
2901 High Point Rd.
Owner of Remember When Records & Videos John Hiatt Jr. has been in business for almost 30 years. Hiatt said he has over 150,000 items in inventory and each record has been cleaned and graded. Hiatt said there are thousands of collectible records at Remember When as well as records from local artists such as Billy “Crash” Craddock and The dB’s.
Hiatt said people as young as 13 to those as old as 102 are the typical customers at Remember When.
Hiatt isn’t a fan of “digital records,” and Remember When does not sell any newly released records. Everything in stock is either used or unsealed.
Hiatt said he is not doing anything special for RSD, but vinyl enthusiasts might check out Remember When on Saturday for its sheer volume of inventory.
115 Oakwood Dr.
According to the press release, the Winston-Salem location will be participating in RSD and will open at 8 a.m.
The press release stated that the Winston-Salem location will feature live music from noon to 4 p.m. from Joe Blevins and Ezra Noble. For those that get there early, there will be some giveaways and exclusive Record Store Day content will be available for purchase.
“As an official RSD participant, McKay’s will have [hundreds] of exclusive releases on top of its regular vinyl inventory, which includes many rare and unique albums,” the press release stated. “McKay’s has more to offer than RSD albums. Their already broad record selection is growing every day, with genres ranging from classic rock to country to classical and everything in between. McKay’s also boasts a variety of 45s and CDs.”
3254 Silas Creek Pkwy.
“Vinyl is one thing, I think people are just getting back into getting hard copies of stuff,” owner and long-time manager of Earshot Music Phred Rainey said of vinyl. “You are more apart of the experience.”
Rainey said younger and younger people are coming in and shopping his 7,000 plus inventory.
“Anywhere from 14 or so to 75,” he said. “I’ve got older people coming in here who have never stopped collecting music. The median would probably be in the mid-30s.”
Rainey said the popularity of vinyl is growing and the convenience of buying music online instantly has overwhelmed many people. He said vinyl makes people feel more involved and connected with the music they are listening to.
“People are really feeling a need to get back to the past,” he said. “It really is a connection with a particular era.”
For RSD, Earshot Music will open at 8 a.m., and Rainey will focus on the exclusive items that will be released for RSD. He also said Earshot Music would have a storewide sale of 25 percent off used LPs and CDs, and 15 percent off new LPs and CDs (that aren’t new RSD merchandise).
“Recorded music is meant to be shared; it is meant to be enjoyed publically,” he said. “It is a manifestation of the experience. Music, when you listen to it either by yourself [or with others], there is a huge connection to your emotions, what you love, what you don’t and what you share with other people. It is just great there is more of an interest in getting back to having hard copy (could be CDs, LPs and I even still sell cassettes) and having the musical experience.”
835 Burke St.
Jonathan Hodges is the owner and sole operator of Underdog Records. Hodges said his customers are largely male, but the age ranges from 14 to 70. He said the claim that the popularity of vinyl is a “hipster-driven moment” is unfounded.
“People just got sick of the digital age where they don’t own anything tangible,” Hodges said.
He said the reason he still cares about vinyl is because of its sound quality. Customers overhearing our conversation chimed in and said the reason why they still care is for the nostalgia and the artwork.
“My husband schedules his whole year around [Record Store Day],” said Tyler Beyea, a customer “every Saturday” at Underdog. Hodges said he has no idea how many records he has in stock, and he prides himself on not being a “niche store.”
He said he tries to carry a little bit of everything, and most of the inventory on the floor is just “the tip of the iceberg.”
For RSD, Underdog will open at 8 a.m. and will have the exclusive releases that will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.
There will be campers who plan to stay the entire night, and Hodges said there would be a line wrapped around Brookstown Avenue that morning before opening. There won’t be any live music this year, but there will be a store-wide sale on non-RSD merchandise. Hodges said the sale would include 10 percent off new, 15 percent off used and half-off $1 albums.
“From a store’s standpoint, it is our Christmas,” Hodges said of RSD. “As much work that goes into it (which is an insane amount) it is always incredibly rewarding, and the thing I like about Record Store Day is when you have these people in line, that have these lists of titles that they are determined to have. Everyone is collaborative; it is not like Black Friday at Walmart, people aren’t coming in elbowing and competitive. Everyone is collaborative. People make friendships in line. It is always a really positive energy, and quite frankly, having to always work Record Store Day I am a little jealous I haven’t had the customer experience.”
Katie Murawski is the editor of YES! Weekly. She is from Mooresville, North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in film studies from Appalachian State University in 2017.