Record Store Day has a short but storied history.
Record Store Day has a short but storied history. When the event was created in 2007 there were far fewer shops selling vinyl records- and even less interest.
But when the day was created, offering limited or exclusive special releases from big and small names alike, it helped rekindle the love for one of music oldest mediums.
In recent years, however, the event has grown to massive heights: record stores are reopening throughout the country and are happily participating in the holiday. Those limited releases, once a brilliantly fresh idea, have flooded the pressing facilities in America with impossible quantities of records to produce.
These growing pains are on the heels of major labels adding their releases to the mix. This has created a unique problem: the independent record stores Record Store Day was created are now fighting for releases.
“[By now] I would normally be pulling my hair out, hitting refresh on tracking numbers (and my bank account), having to dip into private funds and maxing out credit cards to make happen,” Bobby Egger, owner of local record store Vinyl Conflict, said on Facebook.
The releases commissioned for record store day come in limited numbers, and not just for the customer. Each shop “bids” on the privilege of carrying non-refundable product on Record Store Day.
A small store like Vinyl Conflict can easily go bankrupt if they don’t get what they want in, or don’t get it in on time.
Even though the shop had participated since 2011, Egger decided to do something different this year: Customer Appreciation Day.
“Customer Appreciation Day is pretty much the same idea as Record Store Day without the limited releases,” Egger said. “I’m trying to turn around and have something fun for everyone who is interested in the shop. We’re just trying to do something fun for the customer in the same fashion, but negating purchased products.”
Egger reached out to other local businesses that he frequents and made some partnerships. 821 Cafe will have a special punk rock themed menu available only that day. Hold It Down Tattoo will have a special flash sheet including unique designs (and one of Egger’s face) and Strange Matter will host a free show at the end of the night.
Egger said that Customer Appreciation Day is a wider array of events in the same spirit of the original RSD.
“There’s going to be something or another that somebody can do,” said Egger. “Whether that’s eat a weird meal or get a tattoo or buy records.”
Though the event is light-hearted, Egger’s original communiques- though comedic- had a more serious overtone. Those posts, that came from the “Friends Against Recorded Tyranny”, or F.A.R.T. were more accusatory, but Egger said that he has no ill will towards shops participating in RSD.
“It’s not a hate on the shops that are choosing to do it, because its the most successful day of the year, business-wise,” Egger said. “And you kind of put yourself in a situation where if you don’t do it you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot.”
Despite the event’s friendly nature, the shop is also selling shirts that read “RSD Can Suck It,” a reference to the name and cover art of the hardcore band Judge’s 1989 release Chung King Can Suck It.
“Initially, the idea wasn’t to come forward and be fighting the rest of it,” Egger said. “I certainly support the rest of the record shops in town and I don’t necessarily hate on them for doing it.”
Every other local record store is participating in Record Store Day. Most have planned additional events besides the limited releases.
Plan 9 Records in Carytown is staging a few giveaways, a beer tasting with Strangeways, snacks and a large swath of bands performing in store. The store has participated in Record Store Day every year since the event was created.
“For me [the most exciting thing] is just seeing how its grown over these past four or five years, particularly the last couple of years,” Jim Bland, owner of Plan 9, said. “Just to see how many people are interested in buying vinyl [is exciting].”
For the past few years, Plan 9 has had people lining up outside for RSD. They expect an even bigger turnout this year.
“The way that vinyl sales have been going we do expect a larger than last year turnout,” Bland said. “I think everybody does.”
Plan 9’s RSD is growing year over year- but their business is different, they serve most genres of music.
“I’ve heard about a few other record stores who were complaining about not getting shipments and stuff,” Bland said. “I know its really tough cause a lot of these things are allocated. My guess is that there’s not a lot of titles that are up Vinyl Conflict’s alley because they’re specialists.”
You can participate in both Record Store day and Customer Appreciation Day by visiting ALL the record stores in RVA this Saturday, 4/18.