A couple of weeks ago, I realized that it was close to Record Store Day 2014, so I decided to write an article about it. After thinking about how I felt about records and my local vinyl providers, my original idea took a quick turn. Such a turn, that this article has become a “two parter.” So in a way this is about Record Store Day, but really, it’s about the love of the snap, crackle and pop of records and the people out there buying and selling them.
Yes, Virginia, every day to the faithful is Record Store Day.
If you are unfamiliar with what Record Store Day is, here is a little background according to the Record Store Day website: “Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly a thousand independently owned record stores in the U.S. and thousands of similar stores internationally.”
Along with Record Store Day history, the official website has information on records and other record related items being released especially for April 19, as well as a handy little section where you can find stores in your area that are participating. I gave it a whirl by plugging in my zip code and found four listed. But really as far as I’m concerned, if any independent record store is open for business on April 19, that counts because - say it with me, now - “Every day is Record Store Day.”
In part two of this article I will be talking to some fans of vinyl about their love of records. This includes my friend and fellow music lover, Grey Persons. Grey is known for his record collection and equally known for being tight lipped about one of his favorite record stores. People have asked him for years where this place was and he just wasn’t giving it up - until now. To find out about this store, you'll have to hang in there just a little bit longer. But hey, what’s a couple of days, right?
Now for my favorite (but not so secret) neighborhood record store.
Recently, I went to visit my friend, Steve Athey, the owner of Skinnie’s Records in Norfolk. In between helping customers, he was able to chat with me about Record Store Day and business in general.
Beth Austin: How long have you been in business? Seems like you’ve been around forever.
Steve Athey: Twenty-eight years.
Beth: Good Lord, that’s a long time. And the first shop was over on 21st street, where the Walgreens is now?
Steve: Yeah, I was there from ’87 to... Sheesh, well fifteen years there, and then eight years there (points to Colonial Avenue beside the Belmont House Of Smoke), and four years here on 22nd Street. And I would not be - well, I would have been one of the many statistics and would’ve been long gone had I not moved to this location. Because all of the other places were way more, uh, franchise friendly, as the whole world is becoming.
Beth: So tell me about Record Store Day. Would you say it’s like the cool once a year thing, or a fad thing, or...
Steve: Well, it’s created by the industry. Okay, just like Valentine's Day, this isn’t, you know, any kind of official actual holiday. It’s created by the industry so they could profit from it. You know, like Valentine's Day, everybody buys flowers - it’s something that everybody runs out and does. You know, it’s cool, but it’s the other 364 days...
Beth: Right, and I would imagine that you’ve taken a hit over the years with downloadable music. How have you kept Skinnie’s alive and well?
Steve: Well, yeah. You know, it’s about diversifying and having other stuff in here along with the records.
Beth: That’s the thing I like about your place. I can get records, shirts, buttons, or guitars strings for my musician friends and grab a coffee in a can while I shop.
Beth: I’ve scored lots of cool records here. Have you had anything come in recently that just made your day? You know, like - SCORE!
Steve: An original Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland record. That was pretty cool.
So if it’s been awhile since you’ve been to a record store, or if you’ve never been to a record store, why not make a plan to go on Record Store Day? Make a day out of it and visit several. Your next favorite record is out there.
Below is a list of favorite independent record stores in the Hampton Roads area, as given to me by friends in the record community. Except for my friend Grey’s, of course. You’ll find out what his favorite store is in part two.
Update- Check out part 2 right here!
Skinnie’s Records- Norfolk
Fantasy- Newport News
American Oldies- Newport News
Birdland- Virginia Beach
Vinyl Daze- Virginia Beach
AFK Books And Records- Virginia Beach
Plan 9- Richmond. I know, I know it’s not Hampton Roads, but when in Richmond, check them out!