Sunday, April 18, 2010

Record Store Day report... and why more people should shop local more often

It was just an off-topic tweet from the official Record Store Day Twitter account this morning, but it was also a good point, and really important, so I wanted to draw attention it. It said: "extend the @recordstoreday love to other local indie retail. Next week: Indie Hardware Store Day. Would organize, but we are tired."

Now, I don't know if Indie Hardware Store Day is real - a cursory Google search and my own common sense says no - but nonetheless, it's a good thought. By that I mean, supporting local, indie businesses, not just hardware stores explicitly, is a good thing. Here's the deal: There are obviously a lot of reasons to love Record Store Day and local record stores in general. The shops have become a sort of relic to a past when buying music was an experience rather than something that involved hopping into the nearest Best Buy. Record stores have some really good stuff that no one else has. There are the limited releases that are a lot of fun on certain days. There's the sense of community and just general enjoyment from it all that I've written about on this very blog. It's everything you wouldn't expect from a Best Buy or Target or something similar

But it's worth noting that Record Store Day - and the stores themselves - are great for all these reasons because they involve local/indie shops, not just by some magical virtue of vinyl. All the reasons to love RSD that I listed above - and I realize there are a lot more - are because of the objective nature of these stores. It's the local ownership, the small scale of operation. When I wrote about my experience at Joe's in Silver Spring, I said that never would've happened at a big box store. It's true, and the same goes for most everything that's great about record stores and vinyl collecting in general. But it's important to remember that it's just as much about the stores as the records. And, as great as the records are, the stores themselves are a big part of it. That same experience and benefits can come from a lot of the great local stores of any kind.

To that end, it's worth keeping that in mind when you're buying other items around town -- assuming you still have money left over after Record Store Day. Go to the independent bike store when you need some work done, for example. Order from a local pizza or Chinese takeout place instead Dominoes and the like. Go to a co-op. The local independent business sector isn't as robust as it once was in a lot of places, and there are a lot of reasons for that. It's true that sometimes it costs a bit more, or you can't find everything you might want in one place. But if those are the downsides, there are a whole lot of benefits too. And it'd be a shame if, amid all this Record Store Day excitement, the fact that it started as a day to support local independent businesses (in this case, record stores) got lost and wasn't carried over to other shopping habits.

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