Record Store Day is the biggest day of the year for vinyl sellers

With its growing popularity, the annual event has become an important holiday for record store owners around the world

 
(Illustration by Kagan McLeod)
(Illustration by Kagan McLeod)

On April 18th, the 8th annual Record Store Day will take place around the world. You can expect long lines at your local record stores as music listeners look to get their hands on exclusive releases, and others look to rebuild their vinyl collection. Here’s what Greg Davis, the owner of Toronto record store Soundscapes, had to say about the holiday’s popularity and the impact it has on his store’s bottom line.


How busy is your store on Record Store Day in comparison to other days?

It’s definitely our busiest day of the year. It’s even busier than the days leading up to Christmas, which is quite unusual. You often would expect the days leading up to Christmas to be busiest in retail, and for most stores, I’m sure they are, but Record Store Day in April, ever since it started, it’s been getting bigger and bigger every year.

Record Store Day in 2014 was our busiest ever. In comparison to an average Saturday throughout the year, Record Store Day is maybe five times as busy. In terms of the days right before Christmas, it’s maybe about 20% busier than those days. We do Boxing Day and Boxing Week, and Record Store Day is probably 25% busier than Boxing Day. It’s clearly our busiest day of the year, and it’s so busy because a lot of special releases are put out that day, which presents quite a lot of challenges as well, just in terms of having to order so many items just for one day.

Are there certain exclusive records being released on Record Store Day?

There are usually hundreds of exclusives. They tend to be mostly vinyl, like 90% of them are vinyl, but they do release the odd CD and cassette, or other items as well, like books and videos. The exclusive releases are limited too, so stores order as many copies as they can, and usually they only get shipped a proportion of what they ordered. Certain releases have different quantity limits, like they might release 5,000 copies of this thing, and 10,000 copies of another thing—it depends on how well-known the band is. If it’s the Beatles or something, they might release many more copies compared to a lesser-known band, which might be 500 copies.

There are also regional releases too, like there are some Canada-only releases. There are some U.S.-only, UK-only—so oftentimes people will come looking for something that only got released in the UK, but we’re not able to get that. There are so many releases in one day, you kind of have to make choices because you can’t carry everything. You have to judge who your customers are and what their interests will be.

Can somebody shop for records online during Record Store Day?

No, it’s generally just for physical stores. But what happens, which is a bit of a downside of it, is people come in and buy things and then immediately go and list it on eBay for five times the price. So that’s oftentimes what happens, unfortunately.  [Any Record Store Day exclusive releases available online] generally tends to be people who bought stuff before and who are reselling it.

Who are the customers coming in on Record Store Day?

Certainly there are faces that show up on Record Store Day that we’ve never seen before, or that we only see every Record Store Day. Then there’s a lot of familiar faces too; people who come in every week. Record Store Day gets a lot of general media exposure, which is a great thing for record stores in general, and so that does attract people who aren’t regular record store goers. A lot of those folks tend to be more interested in the exclusive releases. So they are the ones who kind of show up early and line-up. A lot of people make the rounds that day, like they’ll come to our store and then they’ll go to June Records down the street, or Sonic Boom over on Spadina, Rotate This on Queent Street. So there’ s a whole circuit of record stores.

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