What It Takes for an Independent Record Store to Survive Now
It’s the morning of this year’s Record Store Day at Used Kids in Columbus, Ohio, and a line of collectors—including a few who staked out spots in folding chairs—is already snaking through the High Street sidewalk. The store’s owner, Greg Hall, 54, bounds down a poster-filled staircase to greet the early risers with a huge grin and an open box from nearby Buckeye Donuts. With silver hair tucked under a ballcap, chain wallet looping out of his shorts, and hiking boots over his white socks, Hall is gregarious and instantly approachable. He laughs loudly and often; his guffaws make that oft-written but seldom verbalized “ha ha ha” sound.
At 8 a.m., customers flood the 30-year-old independent music haven, and the free doughnuts and coffee give way to pizza and cans of PBR on ice. Local indie rockers and rappers perform on a stage in the back of the windowless store, which feels worn and lived-in but less dusty than in years past. Racks of records—organized by handpainted, yellow-and-black signs—sit in black bins perched on cinder blocks atop a faded checkerboard floor. Even though Used Kids occupies an upstairs space, it smells like the basements where much of the store’s used stock originated.
By mid-afternoon, the sought-after Record Store Day releases are picked over, but customers continue to pour in. One woman searches in vain for an exclusive 7″ by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, while a local MC on deck to perform browses the jazz section. The shop feels vibrant, energized, like it did in the mid-1990s, when the CD boom flushed Used Kids with more money than previous owners Dan Dow, Ron House, and Bela Koe-Krompecherknew what to do with: The store grossed about a million dollars annually in 1996 and 1997.
Like most record stores, though, Used Kids struggled through the first decade of the 2000s—not to mention the fire that destroyed everything in 2001. It reopened, but sales slowed. Employees left or were fired. But while fellow legacy stores like Ear X-tacy in Louisvilleand, more recently, Other Music in New York, closed up shop, Used Kids somehow survived.
SnipThouArtThat, Bluesuedeshoes, daleanime like this
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.