We apologize for the inconvenience, but we will once again not be carrying Record Store Day™’s official releases for “black Friday.” You will find those ‘limited’ releases quite easily on Saturday, or on internet-sale Monday, whatever that is called.
We have, however, filled the browsers to the brim with awesome new releases and reissues and original LPs and 45s.That’s what record stores do. The following is an update of what we posted about the subject of RSD’s “Black Friday” last year. We found little reason to change what we had to say:
In spite of our many similarities, record collectors don’t seem to connect with comic book collectors. Sometimes it seems like we don’t even speak the same language. It’s a shame, because so many records have fun comic-themed jackets. hinting at all we share in common. We can’t think of a better recipe for a fun Saturday afternoon than a visit to the Nostalgia Zone, the awesome comic book shop just a couple blocks down East Lake Street from your friendly neighborhood record store. We’re not sure who has more fun with what we find: ourselves or the kids.
The reason we’ve been pondering the differences is that Record Store Day™, which will be up to its ninth year this coming April, was based on Free Comic Book Day, a fairly brilliant promotional scene which has sadly been eclipsed by its crass, over-commercial cousin.
Record Store Day™ may have been just as sincere at its outset seven years ago, but its become the year’s most burdensome seasonal challenge for small shops like ours. Ironically, few of our regular customers express interest in the now hundreds of special releases with the official Record Store Day™ seal. Many of us who have been collecting, playing and enjoying records all our lives find the entire phenomenon baffling, sometimes alienating. A sought-after record shouldn’t be so because a corporation decided to limit its production, and a new recording by a favorite artist shouldn’t be a challenge to find for fans.
Yes, the official Record Store Day™ releases do sell well on the third April of each year (and for “list prices,” ie prices set by the wholesalers, which we find to be unreasonably inflated). The enormous sales of these releases each year has given us a budget to host a family-friendly block party featuring fifteen or more local bands each year — and we feel blessed for that.
We don’t expect the major labels are ever going to create a record we could give away just to get folks interested in the very idea of listening and collecting, like Free Comic Book Day has done for years (comic book stores do, by the way, pay a small price for the ‘free’ books you can collect that day, so please support them by buying something else!). We do wish they would create quality products one would enjoy adding to their collection. Unfortunately, while the number of official Record Store Day™ releases has ballooned into the hundreds in recent years, few fit this criteria.
Major labels have used the event to move massive quantities of moldy catalog material (2014’s official releases included an Eric Carmen single, for Chrisssake). Unreleased archival material that would have made an appealing release without the ‘limited edition’ bullshit is poorly packaged and over-priced. And the dirty secret of record store day is this: none of these products are returnable.That merits repeating: Record Store Day™ vinyl is a non-returnable product. We’re all stuck with what doesn’t sell.
This event which ostensibly designed to support independent record stores forces us all, the following week, to list hundreds of singles and EPs and janky remixes and reissues online, just to get rid of them. There are RSD™ releases from four years ago still kicking around our shop, tagged at and sometimes below the wholesale price we paid.
But here’s what we love about Record Store Day™: the local music media really gets behind us. Radio K did so much to help City Pages tagged us the “Best Record Store Day™ Location” this year, and the Star Tribune has always published our local music lineup for the two stages. Our favorite bands get the exposure they deserve for the awesome music they make — two years ago we were honored to be the site of Black Diet‘s record release show for Find Your Tambourine, and their stellar set in spite of the drizzling rain was one of the best things that’s ever happened here at Hymie’s.
Last year had just as many magical moments. Nato Coles actually picked Irene up and held her over his head on the stage (she DID NOT like this) and Pennyroyal played their last show to an enormous crowd. Each year’s block party has produced these sublime moments, from Fat Kid Wednesday’s smoldering set our first year to the time we pushed Whiskey Jeff up on stage with a borrowed guitar to buy time for another band and the crowd loved him as much as we do. All of this — the stage, the sound, the city’s share just for using the street — is paid for by those special Record Store Day™ releases.
What makes Record Store Day™‘s extension into “black Friday” so distasteful to us is that it seems to have nothing to do with record stores and everything to do with large labels moving quantities of catalog crap. The unfortunate collector who goes home with this schlocky shit (only to find it much cheaper in shops or online two weeks later) isn’t going resent the corporations that now manage the recordings of some long defunct band or dead artist, nor the Record Store Day™ establishment that’s which has marketed the product. They’re going to resent shops like this one, struggling to survive, and finding the old adage as apt as ever: “With friends like Record Store Day, who needs enemies?”
Black Friday has nothing to do with small businesses or families. The day after Thanksgiving should be an extension of the holiday: a day for making epic sandwiches with the fridge-ful of leftovers, finding the holiday decorations in the basement (our family writes a letter to our future selves about the holidays each New Years Day when we pack this stuff up, so there’s that to look forward to when unpacking the boxes), and catching up with friends who’ve returned from around the country or the world for a few short days. The last thing we’d want to do it drive around town to find some junk which, honestly, is easier to find online twenty-four hours later.