I was there for the first Record Store Day at Euclid Records in 2008. I still have the original flyer advertising the day's lineup. It was a smaller event than what future years would bring, but it was certainly the breeziest one I took part in. We had a handful of bands scheduled to play on our small stage, including the greatest band to come out of Festus, The Bottle Rockets. Between bands, a handful of us DJ'd from behind the counter, blocking the listening stations for the day. It was the first time I had ever spun wax, and it was the day that the vinyl bug finally bit me hard.
That first event featured a very modest offering of releases. There were only ten pieces in the racks from artists like Pavement's Stephen Malkmus, The Teenagers, REM and Death Cab for Cutie. It was slim pickings compared to the drop you'll see in the racks on Saturday, which totals more than 150 exclusive titles, limited-run pressings, or upcoming releases you can grab early only at indie stores. This drop features releases from the Beastie Boys, The Cure, Fleet Foxes, St. Vincent and The Rolling Stones, just to name a very few.
I started working at Euclid Records in 2004, straight out of high school, and stayed there for ten and a half years. Looking back, I probably stayed about seven years too long, but that's the way of record stores. I was sucked into a musical vortex that, at the time, I didn't want to escape.
For years, it had been my dream to stand behind the counter surrounded by music all day. I took my career aspirations from seeing my uncle work at the Webster Groves location of Streetside Records in the '90s (Hwy 61 Roadhouse & Kitchen now occupies that building) and, of course, the quintessential, yet more than somewhat problematic, record-store film High Fidelity. I wanted to be John Cusack, and I wanted to own a record store.
What I didn't understand then, and what the many customers who asked if we were hiring didn't know, was that working in a record store is hard work. I'm not sure if you've ever picked up a box with 100 records in it, but those fuckers are heavy.
That being said, it generally was a lot of fun. My coworkers from that time became lifelong friends — creative folks who are obsessive music fans, unbelievable artists, amateur comedians and insanely talented musicians. I feel lucky to have been able to work with so many cool weirdos. So often, they're the ones who send you down musical paths you wouldn't have usually traveled.
There were also the customers. In my experience, there are three main types of customers a record store attracts: 1. The obsessive collector who is confused that you don't know every catalog number and pressing on every album in the racks. 2. The music lover who wants to discover absolutely anything you hand them. And 3. The casual consumer who "can't believe they're still making vinyl."
Year after year, we saw more of all of them as Record Store Day became bigger and bigger across St. Louis. Our favorite customers, new faces from all walks of life and old friends would gather together in the store that we loved to watch bands blow the roof off the place all day.
It's still a favorite for employees.
"It's like Christmas. For me, it really is just a beautiful day," says Orlandez Lewis of Vintage Vinyl. "I've gone to record stores now for over twenty years of my life. It's a great day to see all creeds and cultures and ages just all come together for this silly little thing that's called music. It's really cool. That's one of the many things I love about it. Just the camaraderie and the togetherness of it all."
Nick Kuntz of Euclid Records says, "It's a day of celebrating our industry specifically, not other music retail, because they limit it to independent record stores. It draws people's attention in, and it captures their excitement for what we do. Not just product, but the stores themselves."
Euclid Records manager Aaron Mayfield adds, "I personally love Record Store Day, maybe not so much as an employee, but as just a lover of music. It introduces people to something that they have no idea about, which is awesome, and you can see the excitement, which I also enjoy."
Tim Lohmann of Planet Score, a Maplewood shop celebrating its sixth anniversary in October, says, "It brings a lot of people out. [Labels] put out records that might have been forgotten about, or people might not have heard, or maybe never came out before. It might be some of the stuff that the artists, when they were alive, didn't want to come out, but there's people that want to buy that stuff. There's a big demand for obscure stuff or interesting reissues."