In 2007 Record Store Day was established to celebrate the unique culture of more than 700 independently owned record stores around the United States. And after just a few years, small, independently owned record stores — like Central Square Records — are happy to see their stores crowded with customers eager to get their hands on limited release vinyl ranging from Grateful Dead to Grizzly Bear as well as miscellaneous items such as books, DVDs and even a few cassettes.
As iTunes, mp3s and illegally downloaded music replace CD players, independent record stores have suffered over the years. Thanks to the nationally recognized Record Store Day, local music stores are revered.
Ed Jack, manager and owner of Central Square Records, has been celebrating Record Store Day at his store since 2009. Over the years, he has seen the number of enthusiastic customers, waiting to get in the door, multiply.
"We open an hour early at 8 a.m. In the beginning there were about 5 or 6 waiting on the front porch," he said of the April 20 event. "Last year we had 45 to 50."
Record Store Day has become a great tradition for customers and record store owners, Jack said. By now, his customers anxiously await the third Saturday of April to see what goodies they'll need to fight for. For owners, there's a sense of camaraderie between the few and far between record stores.
"Independent Record stores reflect our own communities. They're cultural jewels," he said. "Each one is unique. Customers can get to Central Square in the morning and head to Revolver in Pensacola and buy something different. We're all in the same army."
Each store celebrates Record Store day differently. At Central Square, you can expect some giveaways (record totes, label samplers and T-shirts), live music (Chris Alvarado, Cody Copeland and Gileah & the Ghost Train) as well as a wide range of vinyl. The store will also hold a drawing for a test pressing of J.J. Grey’s new album, "The River," which they will give away at the end of the day.
It's not just record store owners that are headlining Record Store Day. Musicians play an active role in supporting the small businesses. Each year, a different musician is chosen as Ambassador of Record Store Day. Past ambassadors — official and unofficial — include Metallica, Iggy Pop and Ozzy Osbourne. This year, it's Jack White. White is not only a musician (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather and not to mention, his solo career), but owns a record store and label, both under the name, Third Man Records.
"Jack White is a great example of a Record Store Day supporter," Jack told the Sun. "He saved the record player in Nashville. He's got a great business sense and he's done a great job of getting involved."
While the early bird gets the worm in terms of swag, Central Square will be celebrating Record Store Day throughout their business hours.
"It's one of the most exciting days of the year, it's like Christmas Day for record fans," Jack said. "Some even come back two or three times throughout the day."