After writing yesterday about how much fun it is hunting for rare and long lost music in record stores, I was quite surprised to read today that it’s Record Store Day this coming Saturday, 18 April. I wasn’t aware of that at all when I wrote the article, but in the light of this news I feel obliged to give it a plug.
Apparently Record Store Day was founded in 2007 in the USA as a celebration of the unique culture around their independent record stores, of which there are over 700. Like many good traditions (and several bad ones) that started in the States, it has also migrated across the globe, and there are over 50 of the UK’s independent stores staging special events to mark the occasion.
What makes this year’s celebrations more significant though is that sadly the independent store is a dying breed. I was shocked to read that there are now only 305 left in the UK, down from 1,200 in 1994, and 2,200 in the mid-80’s. Apparently 540 independent record stores have closed in the UK in the past four years. One of these was my beloved local shop, Polar Bear, on the Cowley Road in Oxford where the staff were friendly as well as knowledgeable, and would happily buy your old CDs without sneering or ripping you off.
It’s all very sad, but instead of hand-wringing and moping, let’s all get out there and support our local store (or the nearest one we can find) on 18 April and encourage our friends to do so too. Without stores like the one memorably depicted in High Fidelity there would be no thrill of the chase in tracking down rare records, and many of us would have grown up without properly developing our musical tastes.
If I hadn’t have had the chance to listen to ‘So Tonight That I Might See’ by Mazzy Star in Coventry’s Spinadisc many years ago I would have missed out on one of my favourite albums and my love of indie music may never have properly flourished.
Spread the word, and support your local store on Saturday and beyond!