Despite the digital revolution in music, records and vinyl are still spinning and people are still listening. In fact, the industry has an annual holiday to celebrate this choice of audio format called Record Store Day. In Columbia, music lovers can celebrate and contribute to the holiday by shopping at local stores such as Hitt Records and Vinyl Renaissance and Audio on April 18.
Record Store Day originated in 2007 by a group of independent record store employees and owners. The holiday is celebrated internationally, stretching to all continents except Antarctica according to the Record Store Day website.
Dave Grohl is this year’s recognized Record Store Day Ambassador. Grohl claims that he found his, “calling in the back bin of a dark, dusty record store” when he purchased a record with Edgar Winter’s song “Frankenstein” on it.
Record Store Day celebrations usually include markdown prices on records and in-store performances. It is a day to pay tribute to and appreciate music.
Hitt Records will feature local musicians such as The Onions for a rooftop show. The store will also have free food and will sell special releases. The owners, Kyle Cook and Taylor Bacon, have been preparing for the day behind-the-scenes for almost a month.
Vinyl Renaissance and Audio will be featuring artists Ruth Acuff and William Elliott Whitmore for their in-store performances. Whitmore will also play later in the day at Forrest Rose Park as a part of The Boone County National Bank’s Summerfest concert series. Acuff played at the store’s opening back in October 2014, and the employees are excited for her to stop by again.
Nick Soha, the store manager at Vinyl Renaissance and Audio had no idea that he would be helping others partake in the holiday again. He used to be the manager at Streetside Records, which closed in Columbia, in January 2013.
“I locked the doors at Streetside and said I’m never going to work in a record store again,” Soha explained. But for over a decade, Soha is still dedicated to the industry.
His sales associate John Grupe followed suit and came from Streetside as well, describing the experience as “sheer luck” as he had just finished service through AmeriCorps before starting at Streetside.
Kyle Cook, one of the owners at Hitt Records, remembers when many of the record stores around Columbia were closing. He and his friend Taylor Bacon saw the lack of vinyl outlets and realized that instead of waiting for more stores to open, they should take on the endeavor themselves.
“It’s an ongoing business experiment,” Cook explained. The store opened in fall 2012 and is located inside Ragtag Cinema and Uprise Bakery. Hitt Records is proud to be, “part of this family here,” according to Cook.
Cook and Bacon’s store carries eclectic music on the “fringe” for all kinds of customers willing to discover a new sound. The shop is unique in that it only sells records, unlike most vinyl outlets.
Hitt Records also takes pride in the fact that it is a business dedicated to its customers.
“We do this almost as a service to the community,” Cook said. The store keeps a journal at the front desk full of requests from customers.
Nick Soha recalls that he finally knew that the concept of vinyl revitalization was “going somewhere” when he saw a 10-year-old girl buy a turntable with her Christmas money.
Soha has been listening to vinyl since his parents had a turntable and has been sharing his love for music in record stores since. He described the allure to vinyl as “searching for a truer sound,” which is a lyric from the most expensive record he ever bought: Trace by Son Volt.
Seeing Soha stand in the new store, it is apparent that the value of records is still alive.
“It’s an exclusive day to us,” Soha said, explaining why Record Store Day is so important. “It emphasizes independence.”