It was Record Store Day (RSD) yesterday, and vinyl lovers and huggers from all over London hit their favourite independent record dealers to expand their musical collections. It is a fantastic business initiative, because it is one that encourages supporting local business wherever you may be. If you are in London, and wanted to celebrate RSD, there’s a good chance that you went to Grooves downtown.
Grooves have been a participant in RSD from it’s inception eleven years ago. Over that time, the event has grown exponentially, as has the local record dealer’s level of participation. What started out as a modest promotion with some deals and hype, has evolved into a full blown international celebration – with special releases from artists for the day, performances in-store from local musicians, and a carnival like atmosphere that has grown popular enough to ensure that there is always a line-up waiting to get in the door. Saturday was no different.
Troy Hutchison is the long time owner of Grooves, and the man who puts it together. Throwing an RSD party takes a lot of work, and the preparations to do so, are now unprecedented by any other day in Grooves’ calendar year. It takes weeks of preparations, and months to plan. The performances alone are a lot of work, as there were seven live acts in the store yesterday:
11am – Poesy
12pm – Westminster Park
1pm – Sum 01 with DJ Hullewud
2pm – Twin Fin
3pm – Yeti On Horseback
4:15pm – Never Betters
5:15pm – Looping
That’s like planning a mini Lollapalooza just to have a record sale. It’s also a great perk to anyone who enjoys vinyl or music in general, to have a full day of live music in-store.
Is it worth it? You bet it is.
“It’s by far our busiest day of the year,” Hutchison said, “It blows away Boxing Day and Black Friday.”
To anyone who has ever been around a retail store’s quota lists, that’s a staggering statement. If you haven’t, and don’t understand the scope, some added perspective, “It can be the equivalent of a month of sales.”
Record Store Day for Grooves has grown so large, that it seems likely that it will be one of the first events that will make use of Dundas Place when the construction is complete. When a downtown establishment is having an event large enough to cause line-ups, that would seem like an opportune time to cordon off the street, put some chairs out, and let Londoners come downtown and shop in a market-like environment.
The Downtown Business Association obviously understands the significance of RSD. Hutchison said that they are always very supportive and, “donate prizes and help to get the word out.”
On top of the live performances they put together, Grooves also have great promotions to increase participation, like an album cover art contest for kids, that continues to grow in popularity and is a great community outreach. They also have a costume contest to dress up like your favourite rock star or musician. Adding prizes to an already festive day, only grows the event more each year.
Record Store Day has also received a tremendous push from the people who conceived of the idea in the first place. The initiative has grown so large, that vinyl lovers can expect HUNDREDS of special releases specifically for RSD. Re-releases. Special releases. Special vinyl. You name it. So many great releases, that die hard collectors are waiting with bated breath for the day to arrive. Even the independent dealers share in the anticipation.
“I’m personally hoping to snag the Sufjan Stevens release, maybe the live Wilco, and I would have loved one of the Pink Floyd reissues,” said Hutchison.
Did you catch that? “Loved?
Hutchison runs a top drawer record shop because he understands that all record collectors want him to be their best friend, and embraces that symbiosis. After all, cars cost less than some people’s record collection. (coughs nervously) You earn that accolade when you are willing to let a title sell out in your own store before you grab a copy for your own collection – especially an RSD special release. But that’s just Troy. And why he and Grooves are successful.
Some of the other great RSD special releases that Grooves staff were hoping to grab for themselves were Jazz Dispensary compilation, the Run The Jewels box set and the Air Picture Disc.
Hopefully they had a chance to buy them when the day was done, because the store was packed all day long, and there was always a line-up at the cash register. That alone is a tremendous statement as to the success that Grooves has forged through RSD; and to the boost that it provides for the entire downtown business core. A fact made ever more important with the construction going on for Dundas Place.
Hopefully Troy can find one of those Pink Floyd re-issues for himself, when he clears the rubble of another outstanding and successful Record Store Day.
Come to think of it, hopefully he finds two.