Tag Archives: Coalition of Independent Music Stores

Happy Record Store Day!

Can’t say it better than Jack White:

I think it’s high time the mentors, big brothers, big sisters, parents, guardians, and neighborhood ne’er do wells, start taking younger people that look up to them to a real record store and show them what an important part of life music really is. I trust no one who hasn’t time for music. What a shame to leave a child, or worse, a generation orphaned from one of life’s great beauties…”

It’s National Record Store Day – good things are happening all over. Hell, the event is so grand that it even has an Official Ambassador.

The Smithereens have a new album!

The Grip Weeds released a hi-def version of Strange Change Machine!

The dBs have a new single and an album on the way!

And check out this list of special releases – many with limited availability.

You can find your local participating record store here. Now get your ass to a record store…and bring someone along with you!

National Record Store Day!

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National Record Store Day is April 16

Saturday April 16 is National Record Store Day.

Used to be that everyone had a great record store story, and I am no exception. But now a whole generation of people have grown up thinking that the record store is located between Appliances and Men’s Shoes at the local MegaSprawl Store. Sad, but true.

That’s why this holiday – yeah, I said it – is important. There are hundreds of live shows, promotions and other celebrations planned and the list grows by the minute. Put down your taxes and head out to your local shop and if you can’t be there, send them an email of support or buy something from them online.

Click here for more information.

Sure, they exist to make money, but record stores provide a cultural service in return. You won’t get that from a soulless chain who impose their religious and political beliefs on art.

So don’t let independent record stores go the way of the dodo.

Strength in Numbers


Filed under Editorials, Music

The Record Archive is the Place To Go

Record Archive 33.3

Back in April I wrote an essay about National Record Store Day. As I was spilling my brain into the keyboard, my thoughts were targeted towards a business I’ve frequented for as long as I’ve been in my town, which is a frighteningly long period of time – almost three decades of squatterdom.

There have always been cool indie stores in this town, like The Bop Shop and the Lakeshore Record Exchange. House of Guitars is even a legendary pit stop for every musician coming through upstate New York. And despite a crappy economy, some great clubs and pubs still survive. When I used to travel frequently, I was always in search of the cool record store, along with the clubs that had great bands and the best draft beer pub in town. I’ve been lucky enough to experience a ton of great record stores, from Amoeba to Newbury Comics to Waterloo, but I firmly believe that Record Archive is one of the best shops in the country. They…well, they just have everything.

Today, as they celebrated their “33 1/3 Anniversary“, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a presentation by the Mayor and several local dignitaries…and a few popping corks, of course. Recently moved to a huge warehouse emporium, The Record Archive is the place to go for area residents, but also boasts a thriving international business spearheaded by their massive collection of vinyl. What was once a great local treasure is now a click away to buyers from around the globe.

But it goes beyond all that.

Richard Storms was the first Rochesterian I met when I first came to town. A friend (ex-Flashcube Paul Armstrong) and his band were recording an album in the wee hours of the morning for Storm’s label. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I seem to remember four of us going out for Chinese food and talking shop for hours. Little did I know that our paths would continue to intersect so often, or the thousands of hours I would spend in his stores poring through albums, watching incredible bands play in-store concerts, and just plain hanging out.

Alayna Hill-Alderman, who now co-owns the shop, is a key member of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores and a driving force for all things right in the industry. She’s smart as a whip and manages a wonderful staff who make customers feel like guests and regulars feel like family. Like Richard, she’s worked diligently to keep Record Archive alive and vibrant at a time when businesses struggle mightily, and any artist coming through town has a sharp and savvy ally in Alayna.

So I was honored to be able to witness this honor today…and what a special treat to see that our Mayor is a fan and a customer as well as a politician thankful to have a great business thrive in his city:

Record Archive long view

Mayor Robert J. Duffy and Neighborhood and Business Development Commissioner R. Carlos Carballada joined partners Richard F. Storms and Alayna Hill Alderman at the 33⅓-year anniversary celebration for Record Archive. The store, located at 33⅓ Rockwood St., specializes in new and used CD, DVD and vinyl record inventories, as well as a wide variety of unusual items including incense, vintage clothing and furniture, t-shirts, toys, cards, magazines, gifts and used VHS videos. In addition, the new location features an art gallery space which is affiliated with Rochester’s First Friday art openings and a full performance stage complete with lights, sound and recording capabilities for hosting local, regional and national musical acts.

Record Archive, Inc. was started in 1975 by Richard Storms. The store’s original location was 1394 Mt. Hope Avenue. In 1994, a second location was opened at 1880 East Ave. – which became the sole location after the Mt. Hope store closed in 2005. In 2008, Richard decided to move to 33⅓ Rockwood St., which is substantially larger than the company’s previous East Avenue space. The expansion has accommodated the company’s growing Internet business for both CD’s and vinyl records. The space was originally an industrial facility and needed to be re-purposed to accommodate Record Archive’s walk-in retail and Internet business.

Record Archive is the largest vintage record store in the northeast and is a member of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS). CIMS, founded in 1995, is a group of some of the best independent music stores in America. Its current membership is made up of 29 accounts that handle 59 stores in 21 states. Many of the accounts have been recognized by the music industry and their local communities for their outstanding dedication to customer service and developing artist support. Each member is bound by its shared love of music, a reputation for great selection and customer service in the community, yet each CIMS account is as unique as the market it represents. Most importantly, CIMS member stores continually seek to challenge the jaded, color-by-numbers advertising and marketing of other retailers.

The store has 11 employees, of which seven are city residents. More than $100,000 was invested in developing the expanded space at 33⅓ Rockwood. The City of Rochester assisted with a grant from the Building Renovation Program.

Visit Record Archive on MySpace or the Website.

Website for the Coalition of Independent Music Stores

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Saturday is National Record Store Day

Endangered Species

Endangered Species

Saturday April 18th is National Record Store Day, which unlike so many of the National-YourCauseHere-Day proclaimations, actually has a strong movement behind it. It shouldn’t be hard to find the participating stores in your town, since there aren’t many left – most of them have been forced out of business thanks to label greed, megastores, piracy and the bad economy. (I’d add “asshole clerks” to that list, but having lived through the golden era of vinyl shops I can assure you that even the most surly clerk could not dissuade a buyer from getting an item on his or her target list.)  But here’s a map to check and see who is near you.

These stores fill a need for anyone whose tastes run beyond what the radio tells you to buy this week. Can you imagine what it would be like if the Best Buys and WalMarts of the world were the social arbiter of what can be for sale and where? (Um…what? They already are trying??) You’re not finding The Montgomery Cliffs or The Terror Dactils or Wil Featherman in those racks, and the best help you’re likelyto get from “Tom” – who just transferred from Major Appliances – is that Prince is probably somewhere in the “P” section. And yes, I know you can buy online, some of the smarter indie stores have online shopping as well, having survived there after their only-brick-and-mortar shops had run into financial trouble. We need these stores and we need these people. It’s culture, plain and simple.

So Saturday, there are a ton of indie artists performing at stores around the country to pay respects to an industry whose customers are largely the backbone of their movement. Yet it’s not a selfish move – many of these bands could easily survive on Internet sales and touring, or maybe they’re lucky enough to get their product shoved in the big box retailers. But even those who have transcended the level understand the committment and sacrifice these indie stores endure, and the efforts they make to bring new and exciting talent to the attention of the marketplace so they can compete for your ear and your dollar. Whether it’s a wall of posters and front-racking an artist’s album, or hosting an in-store to help promote an under-known band’s club show, these are the people who step up and help out. So now it’s their turn to get feted.

Strength in Numbers

Strength in Numbers

Visit the website for the Coalition of Independent Music Stores

I’m sure I’m not the only one who killed many an afternoon browsing rack after rack of music, reading album jackets, discovering rarities, getting turned on (or off) by the tunes piping through the store. It was a meeting place for the local music freaks years before Internet lists and social networking sites, when you had to “come down to the store to see this awesome thing I just found” because cell phones, let alone cell phone cameras, were years away. I used to hang in bookstores, too – still do – but I guess back then there were more rockers than readers.

I even worked at a couple, one in a prime location in the heart of a large university, the other a mall store which was part of a small chain. Both owners were guys who were in it for the bucks only – no soul. They had no clue about what music would sell, but that didn’t stop them from imposing strange and atonal playlists at peak selling times (that the crews would ignore the minute the owner left). But conversely, both shops were staffed with some of the nicest, funniest, most interesting people I have ever met, and a few remain close friends today. Somehow we weathered the idiots, the competition, the stench of disco, the vapidity of the mega-hit of any given year being hyped beyond belief, and yes, the pursuit and torture of shoplifters. (Not on our watch, buddy. Because I might want that album.)

Working at a record store is like going to school – you can learn a ton if you apply yourself, as everything is right there in front of you. But even at a surface level, you learn by osmosis. A really good store will have people skilled in different genres, and just by hanging around and listening to their conversations, you can’t help but educate yourself. Sure, it would be nice to have a staff where each person knew everything, but that’s not practical. You probably find that you have more people who think they know everything. I knew a lot going in but learned a ton during my tenure. I was insatiable; more often than not I owed money at the end of the week because I picked up so many things each day. I wasn’t the only one.

Every store seemed to have one or both of these guys

Every store seemed to have one or both of these guys

Today I’m blessed to have multiple options in my town, whether it’s vinyl, used CDs, rare product, weird t-shirts or even (shudder) the newest commercial success. There are still cool people working there, because.. let’s face it – you’re not getting rich working in a record store, you need to love it. And I hang fairly often, although maybe not with the obsession of my youth. It’s not my time anymore…but I’m glad to know so many who have picked up the baton with the same fervor that I had. When I travel I always ask where the good stores are, it’s a must-stop for me.

Go on Saturday. Go for the bands, or the sales, or the food, or whatever is happening at your local haunt. But just go and hang out, and soak it in, and say hello to the people fighting to keep that place alive and special. And hey, if you bought something – anything – that probably wouldn’t hurt either.

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