Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Independent Record Store

As a kid, I spent a lot of time during the summer at my grandparent’s house. It was great because they lived in a town where you could get anywhere by bicycle. A quick pedal ride away from their house was an independent record shop known as Mr. Muck’s. This store was one of the greatest I ever visited, even to this day.

Mr. Muck’s had everything: CDs (which were still rather new at the time – yes, cousin Ryo is that old), cassette tapes galore, and lots of vinyl. They even had bootleg vinyl concerts, “imports” if you prefer. Merchandise was a big part of their sales too, and my friends and I would buy countless posters out of our allowance or money from part time jobs.

Iron Maiden and Kiss posters were always purchased with glee, and my friends and I would spend hours staring at them, especially Iron Maiden, where we would try to find the hidden artifacts and Easter eggs .

Mr. Muck’s was a great shop for a young teenage boy. They had a lot of older (cut-out), or used, vinyl records that were cheap, and when you’re a teenager, cheap is great. I bought a lot of music from that store and I still remember almost every purchase.

As a middle-schooler, I was fascinated, and could spend hours browsing the store, going over every nook and cranny. The employees never cared how long I spent in there either, as my friends and I were not disruptive, and eventually, after enough time, more often than not, we were going to buy something. This is what helped to fuel my love and addiction for music. Quality time spent in a great record shop.

These stores are now becoming harder and harder to find, and that’s a real shame. The big box stores are putting the smaller guy out of business. The independent record shop is still one of the only places that you can special order that rare import or get the vinyl version of that new album. And yes, you can order rare music online, but you’ll miss out on that human interaction.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean enough to most people in the instant gratification world of today. Try spending four hours browsing Best Buy or WalMart’s music section and see if you don’t get kicked out, or at the very least, asked fifty times if you can be helped. Try getting into a music conversation with the Target worker (if you can even find one) and ask him or her where the latest from the Old 97s, or The Clarks is. They’ll look at you like you’re a Cyclops.

Independent store owners’ and workers’ knowledge of music is second to none. I could have a twenty-minute conversation with an independent record store owner about Suicidal Tendencies, and then switch the conversation to Ryan Adams with no transitional issues at all. Try doing that with your local Best Buy boy. Chances are he doesn’t even know either of those bands.

Last year, the independent record stores gathered together and hosted the first ever Record Store Day. Some big name bands even came out to support it. This year, they are doing it again (This Saturday - April 18th). Hopefully it will inspire the few remaining independent stores to band together and announce their presence. We need more of them and more people need to know they are out there.

If you get the chance, do yourself a favor. Look in your town for an independent shop. Check your phone book. Search the Internet. If you do find one, go visit them. I guarantee that you’ll be a happier music fan.

Want to know more? Learn all about it here:

Comments are open. Feel free to post some.

No comments: