I know, we live in a digital world, the new age of digital and streaming services. There are many benefits to this new world, like convenience, for one. Our lives is now all about convenience; websites and apps dominating our smartphones is making it so easy to order the things we want and don’t need. Food, beverages, clothes, and media can be clicked and delivered in a few days. We’ve all gotten pretty used to it. I am not saying I reject this and I would be a bold face liar if you ever hear me complaining about it. I use web services for most of my needs as much as the regular good ole fashion consumer, and I accept it. But conforming to a conformity that is threatening to eradicate all social interactions just so we can keep up our solipsistic personalities that allows us to be quick, and impulsive with our daily shopping habits is the least of our worries.
What is becoming an extinction, especially in NYC, is the decaying of specific store fronts and retail shops that cater to folks who enjoy a good hunt for those stellar finds. The tribal shopper is being eradicated from existence. Not even ten years ago, a professional shopper would take those couple of hours after work, or sometimes during their lunch break, to look around the shops for anything worth their hard earned cash. However, with technology allowing us to multitask at such alarming speed, goods can be purchased within minutes, leaving out the grueling task of a manual browsing. Instead we use a cursor or a mouse to scroll through the scores of selections. But was it really all that grueling?
Let’s take a record store, for example. An average customer rarely enters a store knowing what they are going to purchase. The ultimate goal is the discovery, that is what makes its worth the buy. Like an archeologist digging the remains of history, bins upon bins of records, CDs, and, (on occasion) tapes are stocked and arranged for our digging pleasures. $1 bins may hold secret grails to your rock, disco, and funk collections, if you have Jedi like patience. Many Stores would also have listening stations, ready for use to preview your large stack of potential gems. The store owner would usually play obscure records in the background, hoping to entice his cliental to it’s purchase. My favorite part of the record shopping experience is the checkout because I’d pay attention to the seller’s reaction to my choices, seeing if I can detect any ounce of judgement. Usually the seller would make a positive comment on a couple of your selections, which they should if they hope for your return, to build trust. How is that experience not more fun!
Well, with online shopping on the rise, many store fronts can’t compete when their highest expense, rent, is not a factor for an online retailer. In New York City where real estate rules supreme went terminator on so many record stores. Thankfully a handful of stores still remain in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but that is a far cry from how it used to be. Remembering stores like Fat Beats, The Sound Library [TSL], and Beat Street in Brooklyn that catered to the DJ. On occasion you would run into legendary producers and artists, such as Q-Tip, Questluv, Primo and Pete Rock, crate diggin’ for their next masterpieces.
It’s all about the search when it comes to a good record store. It’s the well earned time spent on looking at countless LP covers; trying not to fall for the old “never judge a record by it’s cover”. Being meticulous by examining every vinyl for any scratches and deformities, and giving your finger joints a workout with the constant flipping of records in the well dense, categorized rows. Hell, even the smell of a record store can give the nerdiest of shoppers chills up and the spine. Oh, and the best part, after you make your purchases you can head home and immediately listen instead of waiting for shipped items.
That is why it us up to us as a consumer to keep these store around for the future and for our children’s future. There is an expression that states you appreciate things obtained after hard work and dedication. I truly believe that when it comes to being a serious record shopper, and I encourage all of you who (by some weird chance) are reading this post, to give that online shopping a break. Take the time to head out to that struggling retail store and give them business YOU need to deserve!
Rock, rock on!!!