While vinyl may not be the first thing to come to mind when considering the effects of the pandemics, for some business owners it is everything. Independent businesses are looking for a way to bounce back from the worst days of their lives. This Saturday's Record Store Day is the second of two this year.
What is Record Store Day?
Record Store Day is a worldwide event that "celebrates and spreads the word about the unique culture surrounding almost 1,400 independently-owned record stores in the US, and thousands of similar shops internationally," organizers.
Record Store Day began on April 19, 2008. Since then, it has been a single-day dedicated to vinyl releases that are only available at participating record shops. This day often includes performances, cookouts, and meet-and-greets with artists.
The pandemic caused celebrations to look very different from last year. Instead of being a one-day celebration, Record Store Day was divided into three "drops" that took place in August September and October.
Celebrations this year have fewer restrictions than in years past, but they still look very different to those before the pandemic. Record Store Day was divided into two drops this year -- June 12th and July 17th.
An increasing trend
MRC Data, which has been electronic tracking sales since 1991, reported that many record stores had to close in 2020.
According to MRC Data, vinyl sales grew 46% to 27.5 millions copies in 2020. This is despite a decline in album sales (digital and CDs included) compared to 2019.
For the first time since 1980s, vinyl sales surpassed CD sales.
Record Store Day June was a drop in sales as stores were reopening to comply with state relaxation restrictions.
Jon Lambert, owner of Princeton Record Exchange, said to CNN that he has been celebrating each day since June 2020, when his store was reopened. His store's 40th birthday fell on the same day that nonessential services were shut down in New Jersey in March 2020.
He said that his celebration consisted essentially of popping a bottle Champagne and furloughing all employees I had except two. It was the hardest day of my life -- to let these people go.
The store was able to reopen last June but there were still restrictions. This made Record Store Day difficult, but there was some innovation. Lambert explained that his store used a nearby warehouse and a canopy to put up tables outside. This allowed people to socially distance themselves from the store and wait on the sidewalk, rather than cramming into it on Record Store Day.
Lambert stated that even though he does not have the same capacity restrictions as last year, he plans to keep some outdoor elements in order to provide comfort for his customers.
It hasn't been normal business for California's Amoeba. In June, there were no celebrity or guest DJs. CNN's Jim Henderson, co-owner, said that the main focus was on sales and giving people the chance to enjoy the shopping and connect with music.
Amoeba has three locations in Berkeley, Hollywood, and San Francisco. It had to close several months ago and celebrated Record Store Day online. Although Amoeba has limitations, Henderson expected a holiday-like atmosphere.
"It's not yet the normal Record Store Day but we know it's coming. He said, "We're getting there."