Record Store Day rocks area music retailers April 18Written by Joel Sensenig | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Those who only listen to music after clicking “download” may be surprised to know there is an actual thing known as Record Store Day (RSD).
They may be surprised to know there are record stores.
RSD, marking its ninth year April 18, is a celebration of the physical musical experience. Hundreds of albums and special music projects are sold exclusively at independent music stores on the day, which is meant to draw attention to the pleasures of shopping for and buying music that can be held in one’s hands.
“Record Store Day has brought to the forefront the place of the record store in the community,” said Pat O’Connor, owner of Culture Clash Records, 4020 Secor Road. “It’s turned people on to how much fun music is. It’s really highlighted the configuration of the album and brought a collectability essence to it. But basically it’s really just used today to market how fun music is again.”
O’Connor is as familiar with the state of the independent record store as anyone. He owned Boogie Records in Westgate Village Shopping Center from 1973 until Feb. 29, 2004. Less than six months later, he opened Culture Clash.
His store is stocking over 300 of the official 400 RSD titles, including 50 copies of the Canadian band 24 Gone’s 1991 album “The Spin,” which is being released by Culture Clash Records. It’s the store’s second vinyl release, behind last year’s “Breaking Glass: Garage Rock from Toledo Ohio.” Avid listeners of 89X (88.7 FM radio station out of Windsor, Ontario) during the mid-1990s will likely recognize the album’s song “Girl of Colours.” The album has never been released in the U.S. nor on vinyl anywhere. It will retail on RSD for $19.99. The Toledo store is selling 50 of the 500 copies made in a one-time pressing of the album.
“I’m really, really pleased with the way it came out: beautiful package, nice blue vinyl,” O’Connor said. “[24 Gone] had a real impact on this area in the mid-’90s because 89X — who was just a force during those ‘alternative’ years — jumped on them, but it was never available in the States. … People around this area were so obsessed with it, they would even have nights where 89X would just play the record straight so people could record it on cassette.”
24 Gone guitarist/songwriter Zeljko Karlica said the band was surprised to hear a record store in Toledo wanted to release the album on vinyl more than two decades after its original release.
“We were very flattered by the interest in our music,” he told Toledo Free Press in an email. “We honestly had no idea the extent of the popularity of ‘The Spin.’ We were so pleased when Pat O’Connor asked us if we would be interested in releasing this limited-edition vinyl, as originally it was to be released on vinyl but then CDs happened and we went with the new format. … It has even prompted us to get together again and possibly do some live performances in your area.”
While Karlica has seen the physical product, he has yet to listen to it.
There’s a good reason for that.
“I have seen the album and I think it’s beautiful,” he said. “Though I need to get a turntable to listen to it. I should have learned by now that what’s old is new.”
Laura Fredericks, manager of Finders Records, 128 N. Main St., Bowling Green, said last year’s RSD was the store’s largest sales day since it opened in 1971.
“[RSD] continues to give people a reason to go to a store like ours, a physical store, to have the opportunity to browse records, interact with people and not just be a click on your computer or your phone. You get the whole experience — you get to find 10 other things when you went to look for one. … It keeps that need to have a physical experience, just like holding a record.”
In many ways, RSD is a celebration of the vinyl resurgence; most of the releases are records, with only a few CD releases. Metallica is releasing the demo “No Life ‘Til Leather” on cassette.
The increased appreciation of vinyl isn’t a trend O’Connor would have predicted years ago. He’s not complaining.
“It’s just a great way to listen to music,” he said from behind the counter of his store, the 24 Gone album spinning on the turntable behind him. “When you put on a record, you’re basically devoting yourself to listening to that record, so it becomes the activity and not just background. There’s just so much interest in the cover, the cover art, the words.”
The vinyl resurgence has caused Finders to reconfigure its three-room store. It recently dedicated more space in its north room to vinyl, which Fredericks said accounts for about 40 percent of total music sales — a number that is trending upward.
Friendly Beaver Records opened in late 2013 at 136 Main St. on Toledo’s East Side.
“We find that our clientele range from early high school age all the way up to grandparents looking for that certain song that they just can’t find anywhere,” owner Broc Curry said. “With the increase in vinyl sales, people look at music as more of an experience. You have to take the time to buy the record then go home and put it on the turntable and maybe enjoy a cup of coffee and really absorb the music. It really is a great time to be an independent record store and RSD helps tremendously.”
Curry said the store’s first 25 customers will receive free Friendly Beaver T-shirts (which will sell for $5 the rest of the day).
“Supporting RSD also means you are supporting local business, so make sure you check out all of the fine record stores that [the Toledo area] has to offer,” Curry said.
Also participating in RSD are the Allied Record Exchange stores located at 3550 Executive Parkway, 1710 S. Reynolds Road and 1734 W. Laskey Road.
“Nostalgic and nearly abandoned media is not new to us,” said Robin Schultes, sales associate and public relations representative for Allied’s Reynolds Road location, which has sold records, cassettes, reel-to-reels and 8-tracks since opening in 1998.
“Needless to say, Record Store Day is a day of excitement for the new, curious and veteran collectors,” Schultes said.
The Allied stores will feature hundreds of RSD-exclusive releases, 25 percent off all used records and buy-one-get-one-free deals on all $0.25 and $1 LPs.
RamaLama Records, 3151 W. Central Ave., is not participating in official RSD sales but will offer 10 percent off all new items and 20 percent off all used items, as well a whole wall of “deep discounts,” according to owner Rob Kimple.
As it often does, Culture Clash will host an in-store performance on RSD by a new Athens, Ohio, band, Sweet Lil, who just released a four-song EP. The band will make its Toledo debut at approximately 4:30 p.m.
RSD titles are available April 18 on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, including a full list of RSD releases, visit recordstoreday.com or visit the stores’ websites or Facebook pages.