In rotation: 6/1/20

Massillon, OH | For the record: Frankenstein Records reopens inside Buzzbin: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced bars and restaurants of all types to find creative solutions to new problems. When just such an issue presented itself to Buzzbin owners Chris and Julia Bentley, the couple found that re-imagining an old passion “seemed like it was just supposed to happen.” Frankenstein Records, an old downtown Canton staple, has re-opened inside the 331 Cleveland Ave. NW location. The store, which originally opened in 2013 just across the way on 5th St. NW, was the passion and brainchild of Chris Bentley, who wanted to bring a hip and heavy-rock based record store to the area in the spirit of the old Quonset Hut. “Ever since he had to close the last store, it’s always been in the plans,” Julia said. “But when we took over Buzzbin, it was just too much to try and coordinate at first.”

US | Here Are Some Black-Owned Vinyl Record Stores You Should Support: With the current pandemic affecting black-owned small businesses at an alarming rate across the country, now more than ever we need to come out strong in support of the community. Nearly every industry is impacted, from hospitality to retail. The small market of vinyl records may be one of the most overlooked. Find some comfort in nostalgia and let’s show our support. Brittany’s Record Shop, Cleveland, OH: Shop online or request in-store pickup at Brittany’s Record Shop. This all vinyl, independent shop offers an impressive collection of hip-hop, reggae, soul and jazz favorites. The shop’s owner, Brittany Benton also takes special orders. If you don’t see what you’re looking for currently in the store, she’ll get it for you if she can.

Portland, OR | Iconic Portland record store opens again for one customer at a time: A Portland record store with deep roots in the Rose City has been shut down for months. Now, Music Millennium is offering customers a one-of-a-kind chance, allowing them to shop inside the iconic store by themselves for one hour. At 51 years old, it’s the oldest record store in the Pacific Northwest. People interested in shopping the store will have to wear a face mask. If a customer doesn’t have a mask, workers will provide one. Customers must also practice social distancing with store employees. Music Millennium is asking each person to donate $25 or more to support local musicians who not been able to make an income during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our customers are big part of what we are when you are record shopper or a book buyer you like to go in a shop and browse, so the customer side of things, they are excited to get back inside,” Terry Currier, store owner, said.

San Jose, CA | San Jose record stores can open under new health order, but will it be too late? Owners and managers of record stores in Santa Clara County are relieved that curbside pickup is now an option for retail businesses after the county updated its stay-at-home order last week. However, some said curbside pickup can’t replace browsing in person, an experience that won’t be fully restored until quarantine is over. On Friday, Santa Clara County health officials started allowing certain retailers, including clothing stores, bookstores and music stores, to offer curbside pickup, aligning the county with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised May 8 guidelines. Whether the partial reopening of record stores, which already struggle to stay afloat in a rapidly changing environment, will be enough to save these small businesses amid the deadly virus remains to be seen.

CA | Canadian Record Stores Brace for the Long Road Back to “Normal” as the Grand Reopening Begins. From masks and plexiglass barriers to delivery and curbside pickup, record buying is getting a whole new rulebook. As parts of Canada have gradually begun to lift lockdown restrictions, many record stores have once again opened to the public. That’s good news for shops whose revenue has been devastated in the last couple months — but as many stores across the country are now finding out first-hand, reopening doesn’t mean things are going back to “normal” anytime soon. “I think the days of jam-packed Saturdays are gone for the time being,” Mark Richardson, manager of Vancouver’s Audiopile Records, tells Exclaim! “Most customers arrive with masks, some with gloves. Everyone gets it and has been following the rules. It’s still pretty quiet for foot traffic on Commercial Drive, so it’s not exactly like there is a constant lineup.” As Toronto record store Sonic Boom demonstrated upon reopening this week, welcoming customers back into physical storefronts comes with a multitude of special social distancing measures.

New Orleans, LA | Not only has coronavirus hit sales at local record shops, but it has impacted how people shop: If you set out to design a consumer product least-suited to the realities of brick-and-mortar retail in the era of coronavirus, it might look an awful lot like a record album. With a large front cover that devours shelf space and a spine too narrow to easily read, vinyl is born to be lined tightly in rows for buyers to touch, flip through, turn around, open up and inspect. And as retailers of all stripes begin grappling with what social-distancing mandates mean for their lines of business, record stores, booksellers, thrift stores, comic shops and others are among the many rethinking the finer points of their operations. But record stores, which subsist on a mix of new releases and the used albums they curate and resell, have the additional problem that a highly-contagious disease impacts not just how they display their voluminous inventory, but the essence of how their customers engage with it.

Boise, ID | The Record Exchange Announces Reopening, New House Rules: For nearly two months, the proverbial windows have been dark at The Record Exchange. Long Boise’s only record store, The RX shut its doors in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it’s itching to reopen. In a newsletter issued May 22, The RX announced it would unlock the gate for limited shopping on Wednesday, May 27. The reopening will include several new rules and caveats… “We understand that not everyone in the community subscribes to these practices, but as proprietors we reserve the right to enact policies that we believe are in the best interests of our store,” wrote Director of Marketing and Promotions Chad Dryden in the release. New rules for how The RX buys used media will be released next week. The shop will continue to sell media hands-free.

Belfast, IE | Covid-19 guidance huge relief for music industry, says trade association: The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) has welcomed guidance that non-essential stores could reopen next month, calling it a “huge relief” for the music industry. The Government has outlined plans in which shops selling clothes, shoes, books, electronics and music are allowed to resume business on June 15. Kim Bayley, chief executive of the trade association, said: “This is fantastic news. June 15 will be a banner day for the entire music industry. “High street stores are the lifeblood of the music business. “The past 10 weeks have been devastating for record stores and music fans alike, so it is a huge relief that an end is now in sight.” The ERA represents retailers and digital services offering music, video and games, and organises the annual Record Store Day, which has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event will now be spread across three Saturdays – August 29, September 26 and October 24 – to give the largest number of stores a chance to participate.

US | More Indie Record Stores Are Calling It Quits — Steady Sounds, Dead Media Latest: Although states across America are reopening their economies following lockdown measures stemming from the coronavirus crisis, many independent record stores are being forced to permanently close their doors. It’s difficult to pinpoint the precise depth of the troubling trend, but there’s no denying that indie record stores have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. In early April, Digital Music News was first to report that Taylor Swift had stepped in to keep Nashville’s Grimey’s New & Preloved Music afloat as it struggled to make ends meet. Similarly, Amoeba Music launched a GoFundMe campaign in a desperate bid to continue operating. To date, more than 6,300 supporters have donated a total of over $274,000 to the cause – less than the initiative’s $400,000 goal, but enough, one would assume, to tide Amoeba over until it reestablishes its revenue stream.

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