Make A Pledge To Save What Are Left Of The World’s Real Brick-and-Mortar Record Stores By Buying All Your Music There
By Doug Draper, reporter and publisher for Niagara At Large
Posted April 19th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
For this life-long lover of recorded sound, this year’s ‘Record Store Day’ – scheduled for this Saturday, April 21st – arrives with a tint of sadness.
For the first time in 42 years, Record Theatre on Main and Lafayette in Buffalo, New York – one of the greatest record stores south of Toronto and north of the Big Apple – is gone.
Walking into Record Theatre, like walking into the grand old Sam the Record Man store on Yonge Street in Toronto, was like venturing into Aladdin’s Cave. The selection of music, in virtually every genre, was breathtaking and the people who worked there – people who became a community of good friends if you visited the store enough – embodied a knowledge and passion for the music that could not be beat either.
The main Record Theatre, commanding that corner at Main and Lafayette going back to its grand opening in 1976, and the string of Record Theatre outlets that sprang up in other cities and towns across Western New York in the years that followed, were the pride and joy of their music-loving founder, Leonard Silver, who died a year ago this past March at age 90.
The main store remained open for one more Record Store Day a year ago this April, with long line-ups of people waiting to get in the doors, before those entrusted with Mr. Silver’s estate left music lovers across the region with the sad news that it would close for the last time when inventory ran out in the summer.
I will never forget entering Record Theatre on closing day – that final Sunday of August 2017 – to tears and hugs and handshakes from Rocky and Joe and Ariel and Nikki and Tony, and all the others on that wonderful staff – before we checked out with a few more titles for the very last time.
You keep hearing that these great old record stores, like book stores, have an almost impossible time competing with Amazons and other online music where people are now going to cherry pick whatever songs that are marketed to them.
Tag me as someone who is out of touch or out of step with the times and technology all you want, but I think there is something awfully cold, sterile and dehumanizing about downloading all your music on a digital device.
I will go further than that, at the risk of insulting or possibly even angering some people, and say that people who download all their music on a device are more a consumer of a product than they are someone who enjoys a pleasure that, at its best is communal, of discovering and listening to great music.
I long ago lost track of the times I would go in to a record store and discover a fantastic new album by an artist I an upcoming artist or an artist I never heard of before because they were playing songs from the album on the store’s wall speakers.
Or I would be thumbing through records and pick up one with interesting cover art, and someone nearby would tell me they just got that and it was great. Or I would go to the cash register with an album by Sly and the Family Stone and one of the employees would say if I liked that I might also like George Clinton and Funkadelic.
Going back to my earliest record buying, I discovered the first albums by Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jackson Browne, and Chicago when I went into a record store looking for something else. Even today, when I come across some of those albums in my record collection, it brings back memories of where I was and who I was with when I picked the album up for the first time.
That doesn’t happen so much when you are cherry picking songs that have been marketed by Disney and other corporations online. It happens most often in that common place where people who truly enjoy the experience of discovering and listening to music love to go – the record store.
In a recent book called ‘Vanishing New York – How A Great City Lost Its Soul’ by Jeremiah Moss – a book that, among other things, chronicles the disappearance of some of the great old haunts where writers and musicians and people with a passion for good writing and music loved to go in New York City – Moss writes; “We all lose when our cities lose their cultural zones to the mainstream.”
I believe the same is true when we lose record stores and I am sure that even many of the people who are downloading most of their music today, would come to regret it if every last record store disappeared.
Since the closing of Record Theatre, I have sometimes gone to Buffalo wearing a Record Theatre t-shirt and have had people approach me to say how sad they are that the store is gone and how much they wished they had bought more than of their music than online.
So on this Record Store Day, make a point of going to one or more of the few record stores still open in or near your community, and make a pledge to buy your music at these stores all of the time.
Let’s do what we can to support these great places and help them survive and thrive.
Here are some stores you can shop for music in or near your community in our greater Niagara region.
There is Sunrise Records which, after a few years absence, has made a comeback in Niagara and other regions of Canada. To find out what is on sale at the Sunrise outlet at Pen Centre mall in St. Catharines/Niagara, click on – https://www.sunriserecords.com/ .
To find the location and hours open for Niagara Records, another store on St. Paul Street in downtown St. Catharines that has a great selection of used vinyl records, click on – https://www.yellowpages.ca/bus/Ontario/St-Catharines/Niagara-Records/5879945.html .
For information on another great, independently owned music and book store called Cool Beat Music and Book, located just outside the city bounds of Buffalo, on 2446 William Street in Cheektowaga, New York – a store that also has a treasure trove of great used vinyl and other things, and is owned by a good guy named Wayne who used to work at for Record Theatre – click on – https://www.facebook.com/coolbeatmusic/ .
For information on Revolver Records, yet another independent store on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo, New York with a fine selection of used and new vinyl records, click on – http://revolverrecordsinc.com/ .
Another good and growing independent record store in Buffalo, New York, is the Black Dots Music Store on 223 Lafayette Avenue right off of Grant Street. You can find out more about the store by clicking on – https://www.facebook.com/blackdotsbuffalo/ .
If there are other record stores in the Niagara, Ontario or Western New York areas that you would like to recommend and share a little information about, please do so in the comment space below.
Click on the following to view a Buffalo television news reporter, featuring this reporter and music lover, Doug Draper, saying goodbye to Record Theatre on its last day –
Visit the official Record Store Day site at – https://recordstoreday.com/ .
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