Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Record Store Day: Where the Cool Kids Go

You know what the biggest problem with Record Store Day is?  It's not the eBay flippers, it's not the snobby audiophiles, it's not the limited-edition/wild goose chase print runs of some of the titles, and it's not even (generally) the BO of the guy in line ahead of you.  The problem is finding time to listen to your big bag o' wax once Record Store Day is replaced by Back To Work Monday (and Tuesday and so on)...especially if you've already posted something about RSD on your blog that you hyped on Facebook as being the "first in a series to continue throughout the week." Make that the next two weeks, then: I still intend to review the stuff I bought once I find the time to give it all a fair listen.

In the meantime, let's talk a bit about the event itself.  In my last post, I mentioned a nasty store experience that Rhea and I had - and even called out the store itself for those savvy enough to click my hyperlinks.  Fortunately for Rhea and I, that store wasn't our primary stop.  We've tried a bunch of different places over the years, generally ranging from awful (NYC's recently late, otherwise-lamented J&R Music World) to mediocre (several, really).  For the last two Record Store Days, however, we've found a great place to begin the day's adventure: a great store with a great staff that gets a good fill-rate on their orders and runs the entire thing in a completely fair manner.  These days, I wouldn't dream of going anywhere else, and that's where the Blogger's Dilemma comes in: do I let everyone in on the secret, or keep this awesome bit of knowledge to myself?

Actually, the decision's not all that hard: what the flippers, snobs and stinkers I mentioned above all have in common is selfishness, and since that ain't the crowd I'm looking to hang with it's time to come clean.  If you are in the NY/CT/NJ tri-state area, the place to go for your Record Store Day needs is Scotti's Record Shop in Summit, NJ.   Everything about the experience is as good - and fair - as it can possibly be.  The staff are polite and friendly to a person, the free coffee, cookies and live music are wonderful, and the way they run their show - folks let in a manageable few at a time and then given time to adequately browse, with a one-copy-per-customer limit upheld - couldn't possibly be improved upon.  Scotti's atmosphere and policies, in turn, attract a fun, well-mannered crowd: no pushers-and-shovers, just fans there for the same reason you are.  It's everything that RSD is supposed to be about; you know, the kind of experience that makes you want to go to the record store more often.  This line video, shot just before opening on Saturday morning, gives you a little taste of what I'm talking about.  (Oh, and Rhea and I are in this: she's the one in the Muppet shirt; I'm the guy in the Replacements hoodie talking about Joe Strummer and Cheap Trick.)



The pros and cons of Record Store Day have been beaten like a dead horse on the intertubes, and I'm happy to let those discussions exist elsewhere, after this quick Cliff's Notes version of my thoughts on it: it does far more good than harm. Yes, there are things that could be improved by the event's national organizers - and there are things that have been improved as the years have worn on - but it does bring a sense of excitement to a hobby and scene that was more or less left for dead a few years back.  That as many people as you see in that video would line up early in the morning in 2014 to go to a record store is a wonderful, amazing thing - and if it helps to keep great local businesses like Scotti's a going concern once the lines die down, then may both RSD and the stores it benefits continue to thrive for years to come.

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ETA: I've never been to the store it promotes - Darkside Records and Gallery in Poughkeepsie, NY - but a former employee of Rhea's (back when she ran a Sam Goody's; see, all roads really do lead back to the record store) passed this along to her - and her, in turn, to me.  Looks like these folks "get it", too; looking forward to checking this place out sometime soon.

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