Shopping at Record Stores: A Lost Art

As a 38 year old male, I’m attempting to come to terms with the fact that shopping for music as we know it has changed through the years. Most big retailers will have a limited selection of CD’s to sell, and they usually stock the best and biggest sellers because they have to appeal to the widest demographic. Stores that don’t specialize in music (such as Wal-Mart) have moved into the art of exclusive releases with big name artists, essentially assuring that if you want that artists new album, you have to go to their store to get it.

Often when I don’t find what I’m looking for, I have to search online to get the choices I want. Since my tastes are usually of an independent, underground nature, I’ve come to know a lot of the good online retailers that can ship my needs in a reasonable fashion. Yet I miss the art of shopping in a physical retail store.

Lucky for me, I live in an area with a lot of Newbury Comics stores. Through the years they’ve had to change with the times, and they sell 20 times more DVD’s and video games these days than they do music CD’s or vinyl records- but it’s still worthwhile to me because of what I call the thrill of the chase. The art of finding the lost classics or unheralded albums from your favorite artists through the used CD bins.

My want list probably numbers close to 1000 CD’s. I can spend hours combing through every CD rack, hoping that one day I will find a lot of the gems I’ve been desiring. So imagine my surprise when I went from the back of the alphabet forward yesterday and noticed a lot of used CD’s that seemed to be tagged in the same week. All heavy metal and all hard rock- as if someone dumped off a majority of their record collection.

Within 2 hours I went through every CD in the regular CD bins and the cheap CD bin. After I finished I wanted to bring home about 50 CD’s- and I had to pare down my wants to about 10. I ended up purchasing 4- but that doesn’t mean I won’t be returning next week…

What I enjoy most about independent record stores are the conversations you can have- not just with the employees but also the customers. You get to see everyone else’s tastes. As the employees get to know you- they are happy to discuss some of their latest releases and also steer you in certain directions based on your tastes.

When I went to the counter I told the employee it seemed that someone dumped off their record collection in one fell swoop. The cashier explained that this gentlemen comes in often- and assured him that he will be selling off more of his collection a few times over the next few weeks.

Great- many happy returns for me at the record store. Too bad I can’t send him a thank you letter as he enriches the CD collection of a faithful hard rock and metal listener. As people predict the demise of physical musical product- I don’t necessarily believe that everyone in my generation will spend the time necessary to burn all of their collection onto a hard drive and convert it to MP3 players and IPod’s. For vacations and trips I like the portability and amount of music one can have at one time- but I think in general I enjoy listening to albums in their entirety. My mind doesn’t shuffle back and forth from artist to artist, song to song.

I’ll continue to shop at record stores until the last one closes it’s doors.

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One Response to Shopping at Record Stores: A Lost Art

  1. […] Excerpt from:  Shopping at Record Stores: A Lost Art […]

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