I’m about to venture to the Pacific Northwest again, so I thought I’d finally get those clips from last year’s vacation posted. Watch below and follow the Vinyl Hysteria crew as we race through Portland and Olympia in search of cool vinyl and rare cassettes.
This past weekend, on a road trip to Canada to see Sarah Harmer perform, I finally had the opportunity to check out Dr. Disc in Hamilton, Ontario. I’d never visited the shop before, but Mark, the owner, was so helpful last year when my wife and I were looking for a Canadian record shop that a) carried the Polaris Prize 10″ Sarah Harmer cover sessions record, and b) was willing to send us that along with a Polaris Prize nominee record (the required purchase for receiving the free SH 10″). We’d tried a few stores who seemed clueless about the release while we were in Canada on vacation, but once we were home, we touched base with Mark who was more than happy to send us the records, and even sent them from the US to save us a little on shipping. He also threw in a Dr. Disc slipmat, which I thought was pretty cool.
My wife had kept in touch with Mark online after that, and so when we knew we were going to be traveling through Hamilton, she touched base and let him know we’d be by the shop. He was warm and welcoming, and hooked us up with some excellent swag — tote bags and t-shirts. It was totally unexpected and so appreciated, and it stood in such stark contrast to the kind of interactions I’ve had with shops I frequent in the US. I spend a lot of time and a lot of dough at one of my favorite shops, and yet they don’t even know my name. People don’t believe me when I tell them that Canadian folks are just a lot nicer and friendlier, but this is a prime example right here.
The shop is a good size, with two floors of vinyl and CD bins, plus a room full of turntables and DJ gear. Everything was so clean and organized, which made it easy to find some gems even though we were a little short on time. And the prices were excellent, for both new and used vinyl. I grabbed Alvvays’ 2013 self-released album, which has been on my wantlist for ages. I’m a sucker for anything RCMP-related (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), so when my wife discovered a 1970s RCMP band record in the bins, I had to snag that one as well. And I was able to find two Rankin/Bass Christmas albums that I’ve been wanting for years — “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,” and “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland.” I can’t even explain how much I geeked out over finding those.
I wish we’d had more time to spend in the shop, because I’m sure I would have come home with a huge stack of records. But I was more than happy with my finds, and it was great to meet one of the nicest record shop owners around. Mark, thanks for the swag and the kindness, and for having a really excellent store. Congratulations on 25 years!
Record Store Day can be a touchy subject for vinyl enthusiasts. Some love it, some hate it. Many feel that the processing of all these special releases bogs down the already-limited pressing factories, and that is true. Many hate the rules and regulations, the chaos of having to elbow your way through crowds just for the chance to find one of those limited releases. Some feel it’s just a gimmick, and they hate spending large amounts of cash on a reissue that can be purchased in its original form and release for less. Some record stores love it, and some report huge losses on RSD from purchasing an overabundance of expensive records that their clientele don’t seem to like or want.
I get that it’s become more about the releases and less about celebrating and patronizing the record stores, and it is a little sad that the day has taken that kind of turn. But I still participate. And the reason I do is because I’m a total sucker for something that’s cool-looking or limited. That being said, I don’t buy records that I don’t care about. There are tons that have been the talk of vinyl sites for months now, but I’m not really into the big sellers. I’m out for some of the smaller releases, the ones flying completely under the radar. Also, I really do like to support my favorite record stores, and RSD just gives me an excuse to go and spend more money at said shops.
I do have to say, though — Record Store Day is freaking stressful. It requires a lot of research on my part. I live in an area with only one record shop in a 30-mile radius, and they don’t participate. All of my favorite record shops are at minimum 90 minutes away from me. So first I go through the list of releases and decide what I want. Then I start looking at the 30 or so shops within a three-hour drive and stalk their social media and websites until they start releasing details about their RSD plans. Usually by the time Thursday rolls around, I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of stores, and then Friday I make my final decision. But that’s only the beginning of the stress, because then I have to try and guess when people will start to line up at the shop, and plan my travels so I get there before or around that time. I’ve been going to the same record shop for RSD for the last three years. Yup, they came through again and that’s where I’m heading tomorrow. But I still don’t know what time I should line up. My first year, we ended up getting there about an hour AFTER opening, and I was still able to grab the release I wanted most (and found the other at another shop down the street). Last year, we arrived about 45 minutes early, and there were 20-30 people in line already. AND I only found two of the releases I wanted, and had to go to two other stores to get the remainder. That has me worried for this year. I’m almost planning on lining up two hours in advance so I can avoid the chase, though my record guy mixes all his RSD releases together so that it’s not in any kind of order, and that means the person ten people behind me could find the records I want before I do.
See what I mean about stress?
I’m mostly kidding. If I don’t get the releases I want, it won’t be the end of the world. But I have to say, I’m just dying to get my hands on that Weepies release. “Say I Am You” is one of my favorite albums from them, and it’s being released on vinyl for the first time. Plus it comes with a signed poster. That’s on the top of my list. The rest is just icing on the cake.
What about you guys? What do you think of Record Store Day, and will you be participating? Any releases you’re particularly excited to get?