In rotation: 5/21/20

Charlotte, NC | Local Business Owners Make Tough Decisions As County Reopens: Lunchbox Records. …Scott Wishart, owner of Lunchbox Records in the Belmont neighborhood, has opted not to open his store for now. “I don’t feel safe yet,” Wishart said. “My employees don’t seem to feel that way either. [We] have kids who are in school. It’s kind of hard to work when your kids are out of school.” Opening up would be especially problematic for a record store, he offered. “It’s the kind of business where everyone has to touch everything and I have to show people stuff,” Wishart said. “I can’t just sit behind plexiglass at the counter like a dude in a convenience store.” Like Hernandez, Wishart shut down in-store operations on March 16. A few days later, he switched to a business model split between mail order and curbside service. Even with his doors locked, Wishart cleans frequently with sanitizer that he makes himself with alcohol, water and aloe. For pick-up, patrons pay for merchandise online and then arrive by car. Wearing gloves and mask, Wishart takes the bagged merchandise out to the parked car. He said only half the people who come up to the door and try entering the store wear masks. “I still don’t think they get it,” he said.

St. Petersburg, FL | St. Pete Records opening new store in Warehouse Arts District: The new shop sits in a warehouse across the street from 3 Daughters Brewing. St. Pete Records closed its store at 6648 Central Ave. back on March 17, right as the coronavirus was shutting down the retail world. “See ya when we see ya,” owners wrote that day on Facebook. They’re almost ready to see you again — albeit in an entirely new spot. The record shop will reopen June 1 at a new location at 2233 Third Ave. S in St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District. The new shop sits in a warehouse across the street from 3 Daughters Brewing. The move closer to downtown is a return of sorts for St. Pete Records. The shop began life inside Furnish Me Vintage the old Gas Plant Building near Tropicana Field — the same building that also once housed Planet Retro Records. It moved west to its first standalone location near Pasadena in 2017. When it reopens June 1, St. Pete Records will require guests to observe safety protocol like face masks and gloves, although they’ll have a few on hand for customers who forget them.

New London, CT | Many area book shops, music stores reopening Wednesday (5/20): Mystic Disc: …A funny thing might happen to those hoping for easy access into Mystic Disc when the store reopens Wednesday. A pleasant diversion might be the massive outdoor used-vinyl sale set up out front on Steamboat Wharf. Featuring thousands of albums listed from $1 to $3, owner Dan Curland emphatically says, “These are not garbage albums. There’s Jim Croce, the Beatles, all kinds of good stuff that might surprise you.” The sale suggests Curland has continued to buy collections during the “idle weeks” of the virus. Too, in addition to listening to the Mount Everest of albums in his personal collections, he’s also sorted through the enormous backlog of store stock he’s lovingly accumulated over almost 38 years in business. “Eastern Connecticut has been doing a good job (with the virus),” Curland says. “People seem to have been paying attention, so I’m going into this reopening with cautious optimism. But we have to keep being smart.”

Melbourne, AU | Dutch Vinyl assessed the crisis and adapted quickly, now they’re reaping the rewards: Chatting with the record store’s owner Mark Reuten. Dutch Vinyl has established quite a reputation within Melbourne’s ranks. A city decorated with record stores, both offering new and second-hand, Dutch Vinyl stands out from the crowd because of its heritage, and the idiosyncrasy that comes with that. The store’s owner, Mark Reuten, moved from The Netherlands just over two decades ago and quickly warmed to the Melbourne way of life. After working as a web developer running his own company, Reuten User Experience Consulting, for the last ten years, it was only recently that Reuten decided to start his passion project. That’s when Dutch Vinyl was born. Now about four years on and Reuten’s once-pipedream is more solid than ever. Part of his success can be put down to his Dutch knowledge, retail knack and feel for presentation. “The idea from the start has been to create a destination store where there is something for everyone…”

New Paltz, NY | Data in old New Paltz: Here in old New Paltz, we just lost a gem when John Lefsky closed down Jack’s Rhythms, the intimate and hip sunken record shop on Main Street that he took over from his great friend and employer, the late Jack Goldberg. I’m not the only press-type person to reach out to John, whom I have since known 1984, to no response as of yet, and if John doesn’t feel like talking about it at the present time, far be it from me. But I do want to wax about for a good 15 minutes or so. The question about digital media versus physical media isn’t really about the storage of the music. In both cases, recorded music is data stored on a thing, requiring another thing to decode it, and to move the air that tickles your tympanic membranes in just the right way. How does any of it really work? Color me clueless. The question really has to do with ownership. The record was yours, and if you scratched it, as I invariably did, think of it as your overdub. With the mp3, it was somewhat less clear whether you owned a thing or just had revocable license to play a certain configuration of data on a thing you own. With streaming, the reality seems to pretty clearly be trending toward the fact that you don’t own jack.

How to Buy the Best Record Player and Stereo System for Any Budget: In a time when filling a room with sound can be as simple as tapping your phone, getting into vinyl can be intimidating. All those wires and plugs. Picking out a turntable that will last. Not to mention the myriad cartridge, amplifier, and speaker options. And even if you’ve connected all of those different components, why does that yellowing copy of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours you found at a garage sale sound so tinny and quiet? Fact is, getting a good sound out of vinyl records takes some effort, but—as anyone who has ever dropped the needle on a prized album after spending an afternoon installing a new cartridge can tell you—the extra work can definitely be worth it.

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