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Record Store Day Draws Vinyl Fans, Even if it's a Gamble for Stores

By Quinn Ford | April 20, 2014 8:31am | Updated on April 21, 2014 8:03am
 Chicagoans packed into record stores across the city Saturday for the seventh annual Record Store Day.
Record Store Day
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CHICAGO — Most people don't like lines.

But when it comes to Record Store Day, 16-year-old Avery Martinez said he doesn't mind waiting.

He actually kind of likes it.

"There's a weird thrill to it...an excitement that comes with waiting in line and talking to people," Avery said. "The lines go on for like two, three hours just to get these records."

Saturday afternoon, Avery was already at his second record store of the day — Laurie's Planet of Sound in Lincoln Square — to catch a performance by the Mountain Goats.

The store was packed. The line of people waiting for the Laurie's to open had stretched down the block and around the corner, said store manager Melissa Geils.

The vinyl-lovers had come out Saturday for the seventh annual Record Store Day, an industry event that seeks to put a spotlight on independent record stores across the country by offering exclusive releases and featuring live music performances.

Geils has one word to describe it: "cuckoo."

Saturday was Avery's second Record Store Day. In addition to live performances, he said he just loves meeting people who love vinyl.

"These people, although we might not have the same music taste or the same budget, we still have a love for a certain thing," he said.

Although the event brings out a lot of customers, it does not necessarily translate into a huge pay day for record stores, said John Laurie who owns the Lincoln Square shop.

"It actually makes me lose sleep at night," he said.

Laurie said owners have to pay up front for the special edition records promoted to get people out to the stores, which can get really expensive.

"If you look at my checking account right now, we're bouncing. Everything is rubber because you pay up front for all this stuff," he said. "They're not returnable. If you get some turkeys in here, and there always are, you have to wait to see those."

This year, a "Ghostbusters" record, celebrating the film's 30th anniversary, was the big winner, selling out in the first hour. The store passed on a special Skrillex record, which Laurie said turned out to be a good move.

"They put them out every year, and I don't think anyone ever asks for Skrillex," he said. "Wish we would have bought One Direction."

Ultimately, Laurie said the event is good for his business. It brings new customers in the door.

Jen Lemasters, who owns Bric-A-Brac Records and Collectibles in Avondale, said the same thing.

"I can tell people are more willing to drop more money on records 'cause they're like 'It's Record Store Day,'" Lemasters said.

The store, which opened last June, didn't get lines around the block but saw more crowds than usual, she said.

On the South Side, Hyde Park Records was crowded with some new faces.

Diondrea Hegwood said she wandered inside with her two sons after seeing the crowds from a barber shop across the street.

"I thought it was like their first day or something," she said. "We picked the right day to come in I guess."

Her two young sons wore sunglasses and danced as Hegwood perused the store and found a CD of a group she liked on sale.

"I can't find them much anymore, so I'm gonna give this a whirl today," she said.

The store was also having its "Soul Reunion," an event that brings in Chicago soul and blues artists to the store to talk about music.

Terrance Smith, 24, said he came for the event. Smith said he has been coming to the store for "a couple years."

"I like a lot of jazz and some soul stuff, like the Supremes," he said, lifting an album he held under his arm. "And it's only like 99 cents."

For Smith, collecting vinyl records is about appreciating the classics.

"I do it for the music and the history," he said. "To me, it's a symbol of our evolution. That's why I do it."