WILLIAMSBURG — Vinyl shops in Williamsburg and Greenpoint are gearing up for the seventh annual Record Store Day on Saturday, when participating retailers will offer exclusive and early record releases, as well as promotions and live events.
Record Store Day was created by a group of independent record store owners as a way to increase traffic at local shops, and combat the increasingly digital, downloadable nature of music. The event has grown in size and geographic scope each year — with participating stores on every continent but Antarctica this year.
“When you go into a store and you talk to people face to face and you get recommendations, there’s a dialogue there and it’s exciting,” said Ed Zed of Brooklyn newcomer Rough Trade.
“So many record stores have closed as a result of the vast changes in music consumption over the last decade. I think that it’s now more important than ever,” he said of Record Store Day. “You want to give people a reason to come into their local record store and to support it.”
Rough Trade has a full line up of live performances scheduled in their in-store venue Saturday, including Betty Who and Mark Mulcahy. The Rails, a British folk-rock duo, is performing in Rough Trade’s London store, and then flying to Brooklyn for a 10 p.m. Williamsburg performance.
Williamsburg and Greenpoint’s participating stores also include Permanent Records, Academy Records Annex, Captured Tracks, Earwax Records and Norman’s Sound and Vision. All six will be stocked with the special releases advertised on the Record Store Day list.
Matthew Milligan, the manager of Permanent Records, said he is especially excited about reissues of records by Jerry Garcia and The Yardbirds, as well as a set by LCD Soundsystem. He added that a personal favorite of his is a label called Death Waltz, which releases horror movie soundtracks.
Milligan said last year’s Record Store Day was the busiest day Permanent Records had ever experienced, and that some customers waited three to four hours in line to enter the small shop. He is anticipating even higher traffic this year, so the store is opening at 10 a.m., rather than its usual 12 p.m. time.
Milligan said his only qualm about record day is the price of some of the exclusive releases.
“The labels set those prices, and some of those seem like they could be lower, but they go a little high because it is Record Store Day and the quantities are limited,” he said. “But its heart is in the right place and it’s always nice seeing people come out and be so enthusiastic.”
Milligan added that he likes the various neighborhood stores’ approaches to celebrating Record Store Day. He suggested vinyl enthusiasts may also find other local record shops offering special hours and promotions even if they are not stocking the exclusive releases.
At Permanent Records, customers will be eligible for gift bags and other free items throughout the day, including limited label versions that shoppers can win.
However, Captured Tracks founder Mike Sniper said he thinks it is better to save store-specific promotions for other times of the year, and does not plan to offer any.
“We tend to do our special things other days,” he said. “If you do everything on Record Store Day it doesn’t really make sense.”
Ed Zed disagreed with this approach, at least for Rough Trade’s first Brooklyn Record Store Day.
“We really want to make it an event that everyone can come on down and feel a part of, and feel connected to the music that they’re buying,” he said.
“We want to make sure it goes off with a bang.”