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The Rise of Record Store Day

A rack of Record Store Day merchandise. Photo by Anthony Nañez.

There’s an internationally recognized event that has flown under the radar of many Chemeketa students:  Record Store Day.

Record Store Day is a celebration of independently owned record stores. It takes place on one Saturday every April and can appeal to anyone who appreciates music. As a part of the celebration, many bands and labels release special limited edition content to be exclusively sold at independant record stores as a way to encourage fans to shop at these stores.

Despite the growing popularity of records, the Chemeketa community doesn’t seem to of hopped on the Record Store Day bandwagon. Few students or staff seem to even know of its existence, let alone have actually participated in it.

“Honestly, I didn’t even know record stores were still around,” Jonathan Uriarte, a student leader who works in Advising & Counseling, said.  Uriarte isn’t alone in this sentiment. Another Chemeketa student, Rob Danner, asked: “Does Salem even have any record stores?”

Indeed, there are two record stores in Salem: Harvest Music and Ranch Records. Both stores have their own unique styles, and the owners of these stores have differing opinions of the event.

Lori Close, the co-owner of Ranch Records, sees Record Store Day as a joyous celebration.

“It’s just fun,” she said. “We always go to Roth’s IGA and they do Record Store Day donuts for us. Our employee there, Philip, he’s a vegan and he usually makes vegan cupcakes, so we just load people on sugar and let them shop. It’s fun.”

While there are a lot of positive aspects of Record Store Day, the event isn’t without flaws.

Harvest Music owner Brian Cossack believes that Record Store Day is a flashy gimmick that doesn’t offer enough support to the overall business of record stores.

“There’s two people that make the money: the people that line up these deals, get the shit made, and the reps that talk to the stores because they’re selling 100% of what they’re taking orders for,” he said. “It’s me, the middleman, the retailer, that takes the biggest chance on all of it because I’ve got to pump down money on this event.”

Cossack also said that the event can be exploited by less scrupulous store owners; some owners have been known to buy the limited edition merchandise and give it to their friends to sell at higher prices than what the product is supposed to be sold at. Although there is a pledge that store owners must agree to before they can participate in Record Store Day, there’s no foolproof way to monitor the stores and their workers. “To me, that’s not what record collecting is about,” Cossack said. “Step on someone’s face to be greedy. It’s not why I got into record collecting for, to gouge people. That’s where this Record Store Day takes a negative turn.”

Cossack said that a friend of his who is also in the record store business has taken an even stronger stand on the event. “He’s been chugging along since about 1975, so he’s made it through 40+ years of owning a record store and he doesn’t participate in this thing. He thinks it’s all bullshit gimmicks. I can see his point of view.”

Whether or not you participate in Record Store Day is up to you as a consumer, but it isn’t going away anytime soon. Even if you don’t collect records, Record Store Day continues to grow and shape the music industry through its growing popularity and sales.