Record Day is a good idea, in principal. I’ve been aware of it since it started and, whilst I didn’t buy vinyl, I like the idea of there still being independent record shops, so something that is designed to lure people into shopping there is a good thing.
Like most on here, record shopping used to be one of my favourite hobbies, until eBay took it away, by enabling me pretty quickly to buy everything I was looking for. I’d pretty much stopped going into record shops, cos I knew they wouldn’t have any of the few CDs I was still looking for, which are pretty obscure rap albums, but I liked the shops being there. But then I was given a record player.
My brother-in-law has said he debated about whether to give it to me, cos he knows what I’m like, and yep, I did exactly what he expected me to, and started buying records by the bucketload, which only stopped last week when I ran out of money. I’ve particularly enjoyed buying 12” singles, as I used to love them. They are also pretty cheap to pick up (when you like the stuff that I do!) and have music on them that I don’t have on CD. I have bought plenty of LPs too and I’m very pleased with the stuff I’ve got, which is enough for now, although buying secondhand stuff off Discogs hasn’t been as enjoyable as I hoped, because so many people are dishonest with their gradings. I’ve lost count of the amount of records that were listed as near mint that I’ve bought, that looked like they were previously owned by Edward Scissorhands. I bought a couple of ‘near mint’ records last week that were unplayable because of the scratches, and then the seller had the cheek to offer me a partial discount, telling me I could then sell the records on. Of course, I declined. It’s definitely a rarity to buy records on Discogs that are as good as their description.
But no sooner had I run out of money and decided I wouldn’t be buying anything else for a while, that I received a mail out from a fab shop in Sheffield telling me it was Record Store Day. I’ve never really looked at what has come out in previous RSDs not only because I didn’t have a record player, but because I didn’t want to get lured into buying one. So this is the first time I have actually looked at the full list. Of course, a couple of things jumped out at me – my favourite Prince album (The Gold Experience) and Viktor Vaughan’s Vaudeville Villain. Viktor Vaughn is better known as the late MF DOOM, one of my favourite rappers. I’ve actually collected all his CDs across all his different guises, and that took ages, as some of them are very hard to find. So there was no hope of me missing the chance to get this album on vinyl. Time to eat into the overdraft!
I looked on eBay the night before and, sure enough, both those albums were already available at vastly inflated prices. This is the problem with RSD. It not only creates rarities, but it also makes them initially available at reasonable prices, so there are loads of people who just buy them to immediately sell on for a big profit. I imagine the staff at these record shops scalp a couple to sell on too. I therefore decided that to make sure I get these two records I need to be there when the shop opens. So I got up at 6:15, dragged myself down for the 7:01 train and then a tram up to the shop.
I didn’t know what to expect. For all I know there could have been 200 people in the queue. I had to go to this shop at some point anyway, cos I had bought a Burial record that needed picking up, so if I only went home with that, whilst disappointing, it wouldn’t be a totally wasted journey. There were also two other record shops in Sheffield that were participating, so I could always try those ones. As it was, there were only 15 people queuing up. I wasn’t so confident about the VV record, but I was sure that they would have more than 15 Prince albums. When the shop opened the queue moved into it and was snaked around all the racks of records.
I looked at the person at the front and he bought about 15 records, including the Prince one. The second guy did the same. I decided to stop watching what they were buying, cos I wasn’t enjoying it, and continued looking through the racks as we moved along. It was then that I noticed something really odd. Everybody was getting to the front, asking for 10-15 of the RSD records that they wanted, paid, then left. Not one person had looked around the shop afterwards and, most puzzlingly, not one person had even looked through a rack as they moved around the shop. I got to the front and they had plenty of every RSD record, so I was able to get the two I wanted, but the guys behind the counter seemed a bit taken aback when I asked whether they could hang on to them and I’ll pay when I’d had a good look around.
There were only half a dozen people behind me in the queue, all doing the same as the people ahead of me, so once they had served everybody in the queue there was just me left in the shop. I chose another record, a Herbie Hancock one, not so much cos I really wanted it, although it was on my list of ones to buy, but mainly because I felt sorry for the guys behind the counter. They had opened their shop up several hours early, because it was a special day that would lure punters into the shop, but all it seemed to attract were people who wanted to buy some of the RSD records so they could go home and stick them on eBay. Okay, I am guessing at this, purely by the fact that whilst they were buying a lot of RSD records, they didn’t look in any of the racks in the shop. But to me it seemed that the objective of RSD hadn’t really been met. Yes, it attracted punters, but not to the actual shop. If they could have been served whilst in the queue outside, none of them would even have set foot inside the shop.
I imagine that most of these people, if not all, left this shop and went straight to the other two, to buy the same 15 albums twice more. And why shouldn’t they, I suppose. We’re all feeling the pinch at the moment, so if there’s a chance to make an easy few quid, who am I to complain. After all, I will be selling some comics soon, to replace the money I’ve spend on records these past few weeks. It’s something I just wouldn’t do though, even though the money would be handy right now. It wouldn’t be fair for me to buy a record that someone coming in the shop after me would have wanted, so that I could sell it to him online at 3 times the price*. It just made me a little sad, even though I am thrilled with the records that I bought. I hope this wasn’t the same scenario in every record shop last Saturday morning. If so, the shop owners might as well not bother opening earlier and just flog them on eBay themselves.
* Then again, I get cross with people who buy a second property, so they can make money renting one of them out, because I don’t like how that practice has made it much more difficult for young people to get on the property ladder. Destined to stay skint, but with principals I guess!