Happy Record Store Day, Columbia! On this day we pay homage to those brick and mortar stores that provide their communities with deep stacks of vinyl and CDs. As we place most of our music collection on hard drives and Amazon clouds, there is still a (shrinking) market for the physical product. For those who collect vinyl understand the fun in obtaining music from your favorite artist. There is nothing like picking up that long lost copy you have been looking for buried deep in a neatly filed row of vinyl, studying the art work, and checking the record for scratches. Its part treasure hunting, part inspecting.
So it’s no wonder with the search process going from flipping through stacks with your bare hands to a click of the mouse, that independent record stores across the country have united for one day to provide a little bit of excitement to get you out from behind your keyboard and into their stores. So Columbia, rejoice and head down to Vintage Vinyl, where you can… oh wait, that’s in St. Louis. Okay well how about Apop Records? Yeah head down to Apop on Cherokee… no wait that too is in St. Louis. Hmm… Euclid Records? No, that’s St. Louis too.
Well, shit… where on earth is there a store solely dedicated to records in Columbia? Maybe that record shop in Jefferson City??
Okay, so there is no store dedicated to just the record here in Columbia. Sure Slackers and Streetside have some vinyl, but those stores (like most “music” stores) have had to extend their retail to include movies and video games. Columbia used to be home to some of the greatest record shops including Whizz Records and Salt of the Earth. These stores were run by people who not only had passion for the albums that filled their shelves, but to the consumer that came in to buy these albums. They would be able to not only hook you up with the album you were looking for, but send you on your way with three more albums you would eventually love. These stores were in tune with the music industry and could relate to their communities.
So where did this marketplace go? How come Columbia doesn’t have a shop dedicated to records only? The answer is simple: economics.
Now this could be seen as an all-too-easy answer, but it is a lot more complex than that. Columbia has an excellent music foundation. We have great venues that not only provide the local artist with a stage to perform, but they bring in national and international touring acts. We have a very talented music community that support one another. We have a history of successful artists who have gone on to great careers. It would make sense for a town like Columbia to have the “cool record store”. Or does it?
For all of its great infrastructure with venues, artists and festivals, there tends to be more support for the live show in a Columbia venue than to the recorded product in a Columbia shop. With the Columbia consumer purchasing from online download services or online retailers like Insound, this town has shown that there is simply no overwhelming desire to have a record store like Whizz or Salt of the Earth.
So go out and enjoy Record Store Day, Columbia… in St. Louis.