In rotation: 5/22/20

Rochester, NY | Rochester’s Record Archive Likes the Sound of Reopening — Safely: At Record Archive, March 17 was the day the music stopped — the day Vice President Alayna Alderman had to lay off her staff and temporarily shut down Rochester’s long-running music store. “It’s just earth-shattering,” said Alderman. “We’ve been through tough times before, but this was incredibly challenging.” Once the state allowed them to resume, Alderman says online mail orders and curbside pickup have kept the lights on. That business, she says, has been steady. “It’s given me hope through some dark days,” she said. “Because it’s really been an emotional roller coaster.” The music store experience is a unique one — where customers often spend hours browsing through records and CD’s, touching just about everything. With retail stores getting ready to reopen, the key is to do it safely. At Record Archive, hand sanitizer stations have already been placed throughout the store. In a nostalgic twist, adapters for 45 RPM records have been painted on the floor leading up to the cash register — six feet apart — marking off safe social distances for customers.

Vancouver, CA | Vancouver record store works to preserve ‘vibe’ amid social distancing: Record Store Day will look a little different this year. The annual spring event, originally set for April 18 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced multiple postponements, will now take place over three separate dates in August, September and October. It’s not a day at all anymore. It’s also no longer an event, said Ben Frith, the manager of Neptoon Records. “Basically, they’re saying: don’t make an event of it, don’t have bands, don’t have a party,” he told Postmedia Wednesday, while preparing for the Main Street shop to reopen later this week. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing significant changes for businesses, and record stores are no exception. At least for now those days of spending hours in your local record shop, digging through stacks of milk crates, shoulder to shoulder with other audiophiles are gone. So are the listening stations. “We’ve literally just removed them,” said Frith, with a laugh. “Putting headphones on someone’s head is such a bad idea right now.”

White Bear Lake, MN | Longtime downtown White Bear Lake businesses cope with shutdown: White Bear Lake Records. When you say that businesses in downtown White Bear Lake are hanging on by a thread, you wouldn’t only be talking about the Sheepy Yarn Shoppe. “Something has to happen soon or downtown White Bear Lake will be a ghost town real fast, because it’s a small-business town,” said Drew Miller, co-owner of White Bear Lake Records, an 18-year-old enterprise at 4775 Banning Ave. “We are in survival mode only right now, as opposed to making more money,” said Earl Poyerd, owner of Benny’s Barbershop, a downtown fixture at 4742 Washington Square for almost 70 years. “Our biggest concern is that we won’t make it as a business,” said Marjorie Intveld, owner of the Sheepy Yarn Shoppe, which has been open for business at 2185 Third St. since 1991. Relief appears to be in sight after Gov. Tim Walz on May 13 declared that the stay-at-home order would be lifted on May 18, and some businesses on his nonessential list would be allowed to open.

Hamilton, CA | Business owners conflicted about opening doors amid COVID-19 pandemic: Dr. Disc. Mark Furukawa has been waiting to reopen Dr. Disc after shutting its doors in March. He had the chance to welcome customers back into his record shop on Tuesday, but decided to wait. “I want to feel confident I’m making the right decision, the last thing I want on my conscience is somebody getting sick as a result of coming into the store, that’s the bottom line for me,” he told CBC News. With an inventory intensive store on Wilson Street, Furukawa said he would be unable to consistently sanitize the thousands of records in his store. “How do I make sure I disinfect all of the records between visits? I’m not going to open and say you can only look at the rock alphabet or isolate a certain area of the store, that doesn’t make sense,” he explained.

Edinburgh, UK | Record store reports rise in online sales due to lockdown listening: An independent record store has reported significant growth in CD and vinyl sales over the past two months, suggesting more people are embracing listening to music in lockdown. Assai Records has two record shops in Dundee and Edinburgh which have had to close during the pandemic. But it sells the majority of its products online via Amazon marketplace, with owner Keith Ingram reporting an increase in online sales – especially in Scotland – since lockdown began in March. Assai has managed to continue trading around the world despite the challenges facing the retail industry, even before Covid-19. Mr Ingram said: “Around 70% of our customers are online. We ship a lot of our stock to Europe – mainly Italy, France and Germany – as well as the United States. “However, we’ve noticed a significant increase in Scottish customers. “A big reason for the spike is the fact that many of us have much more time at home…”

Columbus, OH | The Other Columbus: The Singing Dog God of High Street: Campus overflowed with record stores, but their best steward was a musical wizard named Tyler. Stories abound about the strip of High Street across from the Ohio State University. Not anymore, but upon a time. Now it is Easton Lite. You could make a night of visiting the graves of all of the cooler places that used to be there. But for my money — and some days that was a literal transaction — nothing beat shopping at Singing Dog Records. Singing Dog was a record store like you see in movies: posters as large as your body on the walls, wooden bins painted black for browsing, walls covered in racks of cassettes, deep used-album pockets. There wasn’t a hipster reprint market then, so the prices were largely honest. Compact discs were still cutting edge technology, meaning more expensive, so not yet an overwhelming part of the college student budget experience. I once brought Professor Griff of Public Enemy fame there to flip through crates. I bought my first Prince bootleg there.

Oasis, Radiohead, Libertines LPs among special releases for Love Record Stores Day: Love Record Stores Day has announced the line-up of releases for the event on June 20. The #loverecordstores campaign was launched in March to encourage music fans to shop online with their favourite record stores during the coronavirus pandemic. It is also filling a gap in the music retail calendar left by the postponement of Record Store Day, which will now take place later this year on three dates. The #loverecordstores campaign is partnering with a wide range of record labels, who have already pledged to make special, limited edition releases available via over 130 independent record store’s online platforms on June 20. The first of these are now confirmed and include: Oasis’ Definitely Maybe, special edition picture disc; Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool, special edition white vinyl re-press; and The Libertines, Up The Bracket, special edition orange and yellow marbled vinyl re-press. There will also be special releases from Robyn, Belle & Sebastian, Tim Burgess, Bon Iver, Circa Waves, Mogwai, Caribou, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and many more.

San Antonio, TX | Still Spinning: San Antonio Record Stores Strive to Stay Afloat During the COVID-19 Crisis: Before the COVID-19 epidemic, sales of vinyl records were booming — higher than they’d been at any point since their heyday. But due to the recent lockdown, record store regulars are unable to get their physical media fix. The lockdown has also meant depleted inventory and slumping sales for San Antonio’s record stores, making them among the small businesses most affected by the crisis. While restaurants and other businesses pivoted to delivery and curbside pickup, the transition to a no-contact experience proved a deeper challenge for music retailers. The shops rely on foot traffic for the majority of their sales. They’ve had to scramble to keep paying the bills and supplying tunes to their customers. Some shops, such as Southtown Vinyl, have moved entirely to online sales to keep their employees and customers safe. “In lieu of in-store sales, I’ve been focusing on online sales through the shop website at

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