Forget Black Friday. Record Store Day is where the real money’s at for some Southwest Florida stores.
The annual event is the biggest, busiest day of the year for many independent U.S. record stores and vinyl lovers. And that’s true for the three Southwest Florida stores taking part in Record Store Day this Saturday.
This will be J.W. Honeycutt’s third Record Store Day at his downtown Fort Myers shop, Joe’s Record Exchange.
And this time, he’s learned his lesson.
“Those first two times, I was somewhat tentative,” Honeycutt says. “I really didn’t know what to expect. But those were the two best, busiest days ever in the history of the store.
“So I ordered a ton of stuff this time. I tried to get a little bit of everything.”
Ralph Tarantino of Record Trader 1 expects a long line of people waiting at his front door when he opens three hours early at about 8 a.m. Saturday. Last year, he says, there were about 40-50 people waiting to get their hands on rare and collectible vinyl records.
“That ends up being a pretty good day for me,” Tarantino says. “It’s usually the biggest day of the year, for records.”
That’s the whole idea behind the ninth-annual Record Store Day: To drum up enthusiasm and publicity for the country’s independent record stores.
And these days, there’s more excitement than ever.
Just 15 years ago, vinyl seemed to be dying as CDs and digital downloads — and now streaming — took over the marketplace. But then records became cool again with teens and 20-somethings, and suddenly vinyl was making a comeback.
Americans bought 11.92 million vinyl albums last year, up from 9.19 million in 2014, according to industry tracker Nielsen Soundscan. Compare that to the 1 million vinyl albums sold in 2007.
Now vinyl sales account for about 6 percent of all albums sold in the country, including CDs and digital downloads.
“My philosophy is that people like stuff,” says Honeycutt of Joe’s Record Exchange. “Downloads and Spotify are great, but they’re not stuff.”
With vinyl records, you can hold albums and look at the over-size cover art and read the liner notes. Then there’s the physical act of putting the album on a turntable.
“They’re interactive,” Honeycutt says. “They’re fun!”
Joe’s Record Exchange in Fort Myers rides the vinyl trend
Since 2008, Record Store Day has enticed vinyl collectors into independent stores in search of sales and limited-edition records. This year’s offerings include singles, compilations, picture discs and colored-vinyl records by everyone from Johnny Cash to Five Finger Death Punch to Cheap Trick.
Up for grabs this year at Southwest Florida stores: A Creedence Clearwater Revival box set, a 12-inch picture disc of the Iron Maiden single “Empire of the Clouds,” a David Bowie picture disc of “The Man Who Sold the World” and a reissue of Jimi Hendrix’s 1969 album “Smash Hits.”
T.J. Koontz, owner of T.J.’s CDs & More in Port Charlotte, says some people drive all the way from Tampa or Fort Lauderdale to score some cool, rare stuff. And as they wait, they chatter excitedly about which albums they’re hoping to get and why.
“For people who are really into record collecting, it creates a high buzz,” Koontz says. “It’s big names that people like. You can get them on this day and never again.”
Collectors give different reasons for their love affair with vinyl. The sound is “warmer” and more true to life, they say. It’s more human than sanitized, processed digital music.
Vinyl fans also like the collectability and all the cool variations, such as colored vinyl or picture discs.
That’s nothing new for Tarantino of Record Trader 1. He’s known about the joys of vinyl for decades. After opening his store in 1987, he saw vinyl’s popularity dip in the ’90s and then start picking up again in the 21st century.
“People are recognizing that vinyl is better than digital,” he says. “How do you tell a computer to add feelings?
“Vinyl is warmer. It has more feeling to it than digital recordings.”
Connect with this reporter: Charles Runnells (News-Press) (Facebook) @charlesrunnells (Twitter).
Southwest Florida stores taking part in Record Store Day
Joe’s Record Exchange, 2439 First St., downtown Fort Myers. 332-3222 or facebook.com/JoesRecordExchange
Record Trader 1, 3091 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers. 337-4330 or Facebook (keywords “Record Trader 1”).
T.J.’s CDs & More, 3275 Tamiami Trail, Unit A, Port Charlotte. 941-624-4223 or Facebook (keywords “T J’s CD’s & More”)
Learn more about Record Store Day at recordstoreday.com.
Other places to be vinyl in Southwest Florida
Echo Vintage Books and Vinyl Records, 1793 Fowler St., Fort Myers. 234-8197 or Facebook (keywords “Echo Vintage Books & Vinyl Records”)
Beach Records, 16120 San Carlos Blvd., south Fort Myers. 878-7806 or facebook.com/BeachRecords
Epic Audio/Video, 4910 Tamiami Trail N., Suite 108, Naples. 643-3050 or epicaudiovideo.com
The House of High Fidelity, 1585 Pine Ridge Road, Suite 4, Naples. 262-0100 or houseofhighfidelity.com