One of the most clever inventions of the modern shopping era is Record Store Day.
It signals the release of hundreds of special editions and new material on the same day to draw people into record stores, with a special emphasis on the local shops that hold it down for independent music.
The week of this year’s first RSD saw the fourth-largest week for vinyl album sales since 1991, according to data tracking firm Luminate. Adding an RSD Black Friday event to the calendar is a perfect progression.
While some records will be released to additional sellers in the future, many of the records released to record shops on the big day are exclusive to indie shops, with many limited regional releases.
The regional organization of the event means that, since each indie record store makes its own buying decisions, some titles will be in some stores rather than others. Other titles will be available in one part of the country rather than in another. All this helps build the excitement of going into a store and picking a new rare gem.
Intended as a coming together of friends and community, there are rules to minimize eBay poaching. According to the collaborative Record Store Day website, “The titles on the RSD Black Friday list are limited in number, as are most things created for special time periods or exclusive to certain retailers.”
It’s a brilliant idea to spur sales in a reviving market niche and to guide those sales to the mom-and-pop operators behind independent record stores. Chief among those stores in the North Bay is the Next Record Store in Santa Rosa.
“So we kind of make it an all-day party, you know,” says Gerry Stumbaugh of The Next Record Store.
The store opens early, as most are doing, at 8am. In the afternoon, the DJ Max Wordlow is in the house spinning classic sold gold 45 sets laced with hip-hop.
“And yeah, like, hundreds of used records only come out that day,” says Stumbaugh knowingly.
Red Devil Records in San Rafael puts out special records too.
“I stockpile holiday records all year. I have 150 used holiday records that I’ll be putting out,” says Red Devil proprietor Barry Lazarus.
Watts Music in Novato is staying on theme.
“We have many used records that we’ve had set aside for a while now that [have never] been put out,” says Darin Chace of Watts Music. “So, we will be putting out a nice collection of used records that haven’t gone out yet.”
Chace runs down a list of favorites coming out. One that stands out to me is Lee Perry with Keith Richards, a new addition to the now famous collaboration.
“There’s a Charles Mingus one that looks really good, stuff from 1960,” says Chace. “Tons of good jazz.”
“Obviously the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia pieces always do well here in Marin,” Chase observes. “Me personally though, I’m looking forward to the Faces album,” he adds, audibly perking up, “I love the Faces.” Dope.
Hannah Jensen, at recently opened Paradise Found Records in Petaluma, is interested in some metal releases.
“There’s some metal albums that I don’t think anybody’s going to even know about purchasing,” she says. Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron is releasing an album playing with members of Seattle sound pioneers Melvins.
“And then there’s some Mexican, like, post-rock kind of jazz instrumental thing called Dungeon,” says Jensen. “And, the other one that I’m excited about is called Virulence, which is the guys that became the band Fu Manchu before they formed the band. It’s like a hardcore punk album,” she continues. And as she goes on, I realize I need to guard some of these gems for myself.