Monday, April 22, 2013

Record Store Visit: Princeton Record Exchange - Princeton, NJ -04/20/13 (RSD13)

This will also be doubling as my post about the various Record Store Day hijinks that took place this past Saturday. Though Princeton Record Exchange was the 2nd store I visited for Record Store Day, I have already done a store profile on the first store I went to. For that reason we'll start with Princeton, even though it makes me tell the days events out of order.

The Princeton Record Exchange was always the store that was a rare treat for me when I was younger. It was easily the store that was furthest away from me, but was still within range to get to. It took an hour each way driving commitment; so we didn't get out there a lot. What Princeton was great for then (and maybe still now but I don't go in that section as much anymore) was used CDs. They were so cheap and so plentiful. I can only assume they were siphoning promos from the local campus radio station like crazy as everything was pretty current too.

These days my record buying budget isn't as tight as it was in college, so I tend to stay in the area of the store where my heart truly lies; the vinyl section. They have a really strong selection. A little something of everything. I'm always surprised by the smaller niche bands they manage to stock. I will say that they have always been terrible about 7"s, there's almost none in the entire store, but for LPs they are absolutely worth the trip down.

For Record Store Day 2013, they were the 2nd store we went to. We got there at 9:30am (store opens at 10:00) and were pretty far back in line. I would say there were probably 100 - 150 people ahead of us, but I'm not great at judging the size of a crowd. What I will say is this, Princeton Record Store is terrible at managing Record Store Day.

Rather than keep all of the records behind a counter and get people what they want, they literally make people stand at one end of their Record Store Day section and go down the aisle row by row. You have to flip through every single record to pick out the titles that you want. As you can imagine, this makes the line take FOREVER. Though I was lucky and The Thermals 7" I was waiting in line for all that time was still around by the time I got my turn, it's really just insane to make people get their records in this manner. We arrived at 9:30 and didn't get out of there until nearly 2. Again, I realize there were a lot of people in line, but I think you could have gotten everyone out much quicker if the staff (who are very, very nice) were given more control of the situation.

The line at Vintage Vinyl about an hour before the store opened
Much, much earlier, the day started off at Vintage Vinyl in Fords, NJ. We arrived at 3:30am (store opened at 8:00) and there were already about 15 people in line ahead of us. Frankly, I was shocked there were that many. I figured at worst we'd be 5 or 6 people back that early. We spent the next 4 and a half hours being cold, hungry and trying to figure out if the 15 people ahead of us were also there primarily for the Rocket From The Crypt records. About an hour before go time a TV crew from TV Tokyo showed up and started interviewing people in line. They also ended up in the store, recording some footage there as well.

Once the store opened, they moved at a pretty brisk pace. You give them your list they retrieve your records. Except they really don't do a good job with your list, plus random records aren't behind the counter, they are on a little display stand opposite the counter behind everyone in line. As soon as I walked in the door I saw the 2 RFTC reissues on this rack and bolted over to them. Luckily I got them, but I don't know that I would have if a couple of the people in line ahead of me were paying more attention to the layout of the store.

Once I handed my list in, I had to keep giving it back to them 3 more times as they didn't give me everything on my list after they went through it the first time. I understand they are busy and are trying to move quick, but I had been waiting outside their store for almost 5 hours, the least they could do is make sure I get everything on my list that was actually in stock. I got most of what I wanted except for the Thermals 7" (Vintage didn't get any, but I got that at Princeton) and the Superchunk 7" that the guy in front of me got the very last copy of (Luckily a friend in Philly picked me up a copy of that though - Thanks!).

All in all, despite minor organizational gripes with my stores, I had an amazing time at Record Store Day. Money was spent, records were bought and I took part in a little network of like minded friends across the country & overseas that were all helping each other get the records they wanted (#TeamSwami). I have the nicest, most patient wife in the world and I have a big stack of records to write about in the upcoming weeks; with more on their way from various friends. Can't wait until next year!

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