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Wednesday, April 18,2012

Viva vinyl!

Local shops await annual Record Store Day sales

by Rich Tupica
Each year on the third Saturday in April, vinyl-record junkies congregate outside independent record shops, waiting for the doors to open in hopes of getting their hands on limited slabs of wax, freshly pressed for Record Store Day.

While the 4-year-old event is a day validating the love of digging through crates of LPs and 7-inches, it’s also a huge financial boost for the indie shops. Local stores participating this year include Flat, Black and Circular, The Record Lounge and Schuler Books and Music (Eastwood).

“For the last few years, Record Store Day has been the best day we’ve ever had,” said Heather Frarey, owner of the Record Lounge in East Lansing.

Prior to the chaotic sales day, Frarey said ordering the exclusive Record Store Day 12-inches and singles from distributors, pressed by an assortment of major and indie labels, can be a headache. 

“You may order five copies of something, but because of the limited amount pressed you may only be allocated two copies, so that is very frustrating,” Frarey said. “Also, you have to spend a lot of money to get all the releases into the shop. Otherwise, I look forward to Record Store Day all year. It's amazing what it's done for vinyl, as well as the indie record store community worldwide.”

Flat, Black and Circular manager Jon Howard said the event is also a “frantic” sales day at his East Lansing store. The day starts with around 30 people lined up, waiting to get inside. 

“It is our biggest sales day,” Howard said. “We actually don't make that much off of Record Store Day releases. The markup is not that high, and once in a while a release will totally tank and we will sit on a pile of copies. 

“On the other hand, many customers get out the door with a huge bag of other records, which makes this a huge sales day.”

Howard said he projects this year’s top Record Store Day sellers to be the “Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends” set, as well as the Flaming Lips/Mastodon 7-inch split and the Phish “Junta” LP set.

A few of the other big-name releases include Animal Collective, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Paul McCartney, Ryan Adams, Regina Spektor, Black Keys, The Byrds, The White Stripes and Gorillaz.

Record Store Day is often topped off with in-store performances from local and national acts. This year, Record Lounge has a roster of bands playing inside the store from 7 to 11 p.m., and also up the street at Espresso Royale (527 East Grand River Avenue) from noon to 5 p.m. Proceeds collected at the in-stores will benefit the residents of Dexter, which was recently hit by a tornado. Some of the performers include Kyle Pentecost, Tiger! Tiger!, Tania Hayward, Jory Stultz, Fertile Brainsoil, Sherman's Wake and Sabertooth Fiancee.

Meanwhile Flat, Black and Circular hosts Lansing rockers Lord Vapid and Jackpine Snag. Out-of-town indie bands include A New Benjamin Britten (from New York), and Drunken Barn Dance (from Ypsilanti). 

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