Record Store Day is a 'boon to business' for NYC's vinyl shops | amNewYork

Record Store Day is a ‘boon to business’ for NYC’s vinyl shops

Nikki Durso, from Flatbush, looks through the releases on sale on Record Store Day at Rough Trade, in Williamsburg, on April 21, 2018.
Nikki Durso, from Flatbush, looks through the releases on sale on Record Store Day at Rough Trade, in Williamsburg, on April 21, 2018. Photo Credit: Ed Hafizov / Zorz Studios

Record Runner store owner John Pita and his staff were juggling three dozen heavy boxes of specially released vinyl this week, with more on the way, in time for Record Store Day on Saturday.

"There are boxes everywhere right now," he told amNewYork on Wednesday. "We’ve been open for 40 years and this is our 11th time doing Record Store Day. After doing this so long, we kinda know how to deal with it."

Many other record stores are facing the same crunch as the promotion’s new releases and special editions arrive, but is the flood of boxes and extra work worth it?

Definitely, according to Pita and other record store owners.

"It’s the best day of the year — financially and bottom line," he said. "We do a lot of work but it’s still fun. You always complain when you’re doing it but in the end, it’s always worth it." 

Last year’s Record Store Day was a hit, according to Nielsen Music. Between April 20-26, independent record stores sold 733,000 LPs, including 580,000 vinyl LPs, marking the highest non-holiday week sales total in the U.S. since July 2005.

Also during that week, total albums sold at indie record stores rose by 200 percent from the prior week and total record album sales were up 23 percent over 2017’s Record Store Day.

"Record Store Day 2018 reached new highs for independent record stores as a whole, as well as the vinyl format," said David Bakula, the senior vice president of Industry Insights for Nielsen Music, in a statement. “And, the impact of Record Store Day reaches far beyond the stores and vinyl sales — it’s a major factor in the success of the music business overall."

For New York City stores that take part, it does wonders.

"It helps a lot," Pita said. "There are more than 500 re-releases on that day … which capture such a variety of people. The first year they did it, I thought, ‘Who’s gonna care about Record Store Day?’"

Fabio Roberti, the owner of Earwax Records in Brooklyn, was also skeptical and didn’t get involved at first. 

"I wasn’t always interested in being part of it — the first year I did not participate," he said. "The idea that you have to make a special day for people to get interested in vinyl was a little bit much to me. Every day was Record Store Day to me."

But when he saw that various albums were being re-issued and realized that it was a way to attract younger people who are just getting into collecting vinyl, he got a "whole different attitude and way of thinking about it," he said.

For Earwax, the day seems to help "a little bit," he said. "It varies from year to year. Sometimes it’s really good and sometimes it’s just OK." 

"Most stores see an uptick in business, which is part of why stores will do it," he added. "But the downside is that not everything that comes through sells well. You have to buy these things outright and cannot return them so then if you don’t sell them, you’re stuck with them."

Charles DeWeese, the store manager for the Fifth Avenue Record Shop in Brooklyn, said that receiving the promotion’s deliveries and pricing the records takes about 10 hours of work for what is the busiest day of the year.

"It’s a boon to business," he said. "It’s big. It’s fun because people are asking for different records and are buying all day, nonstop."

DeWeese said he does see a drop off in business after the event, but that it does help attract customers.

"It brings people out to shop on those days but we don’t see them ever again," he said. "But, they seem to keep coming to this day."

Record Store Day shops:

Record Runner (5 Jones St., Greenwich Village): Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Special releases: Madonna "La Isla Bonita" and "True Blue" super club mix; Bob Dylan "Blood On The Tracks" original New York test pressing; and various Rolling Stones, blues and jazz albums and more.

Fifth Avenue Record Shop (439 Fifth Ave., Park Slope): Open 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 p.m.
Special releases: Alice Cooper "Dirty Diamonds;" B-52s "Mesopotamia;" Aretha Franklin "The Atlantic Singles 1967;" Elvis Costello & The Imposters "Purse;" "Charlie Parker With Strings: The Alternate Takes;" Queen "Bohemian Rhapsody Picture Disc" and more

Earwax Records (167 N. Ninth St., Williamsburg): Open 10:30 a.m. to about 8:30 p.m.
Special releases: "Twin Peaks Season Two: Music and More" (two LPs); David Bowie "Pin Ups" 2015 remastered version; Grateful Dead "Sage & Spirit" and "The Warfield: San Fransisco Oct. 9-10, 1980;" John Lennon "Imagine" raw studio mixes and more.

For more, check out our roundup of events and releases and our indie record store listing.

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