Why People Will Always Love Record Stores
Record collectors have firmly declared that the convenience of digital music is no match for the tangible magic of vinyl. Physically engaging with art, lyrics, and the record itself provides a deep-rooted connection that streaming services will never be able to replicate.
Independent record stores take the experience of physical media a step further by providing a space for you to flip through bins brimming with potential discoveries and rub elbows (sometimes literally) with your fellow crate diggers.
Each record has a story to tell. You can trace the history of your records back to where you found them and how you felt leaving the shop with them in your hands. You remember how certain records appeared at the perfect moments in your life and are instantly transported back in time with each listen. Your personal history begins to blend with the history of each artist, record label, and release. Records start to feel more like old friends than items you bought at a shop.
Record stores are much more than shopping destinations; they are the backbone of the global vinyl community. Trends change and physical formats rise and fall, but one thing is for certain: record stores aren’t going anywhere. This is a list of reasons why people will always love record stores and proof that if there were an apocalypse, record shops would likely be some of the last structures to fall and the first to be rebuilt.
Sense of Community
Even if you’ve never had a local bar like Cheers, you may know a few record stores “where everybody knows your name.” Record shops represent the core of what collectors all have in common: a deep love of music. Bonds are formed, guards are let down, and people feel inspired to share and connect with one another.
You can visit a record store by yourself and not feel alone. You can go with a group of friends or make new ones as you discuss recommendations, the music that’s currently playing, or the band shirt you decided to wear that day. Much like the bins themselves, the social aspect of in-store record shopping is full of possibilities.
Thrill of the Chase
Whether you have a mental list, a piece of paper, or have your Discogs Wantlist pulled up on your phone, there are few things more exciting than scoring those records you’ve been searching for. Feverishly bouncing around the store, finding the bins you need to dig through, and putting your fate in your own hands as you flip through the shop’s selection feels like the climax of a thrilling movie or novel.
You never know what will happen next and there is something incredibly intoxicating about that. It’s even better when you find those elusive titles you hoped for most.
Element of Surprise
Flipping through records can be meditative. If you don’t have a shopping list in mind and exercise some patience, working your way through the alphabet or different genres can lead you down some unknown paths. Striking cover art, intriguing hype sticker descriptions, and employee picks can all open your eyes and ears to something that’s totally new to you.
Regular visits to shops may also surface surprises that include records you already know and love. Spotting a rare original pressing you’ve wanted for years or realizing that obscure album you’re obsessed with was finally reissued on vinyl are a few of the most exciting surprises you can experience while record hunting.
As far as addictions go, you can do a lot worse than record collecting. Vinyl culture can provide focus and purpose for those with obsessive impulses. The act of traveling to stores, accumulating knowledge, meeting like-minded collectors, and shopping for records can truly feel cathartic. However, just like every other addiction, moderation is key. As long as you don’t accrue insurmountable debt or have your floor cave in from the massive weight of your collection, you should be just fine.