Face the Music: Vinyl collectors are a growing group, and Record Store Day is their Christmas

Winford Hunter

Taylor Swift’s 2023 Record Store Day release, “Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions.” Photo by Mick Werkhoven

Record Store Day, which happens Saturday in Maine and all around the world, is the equivalent of Christmas and your birthday to those who love, collect and listen to vinyl and like to support independent record stores.

Special vinyl from both lesser-known indie artists and mega stars is released, and the quantities are limited.

Vinyl fans (myself included) nerd out hard and proud, as evidenced by the long lines of aficionados who wait, sometimes for hours, outside record retailers in Maine to increase the odds of scoring our “must-haves.”

There are hundreds of titles on this year’s list including from Chet Baker, The Cranberries, Grateful Dead, Billy Joel and Dolly Parton. It’s important to note that not every store is carrying every title, and it’s best to check what they’ll have in advance.

All RSD releases fall under one of three categories: Exclusives are physically released only at indie record stores. RSD-first titles that are initially only carried at indie stores but may be released to other retailers or web stores. Small-run/regional titles are either regionally based and sold at specific stores or are press runs under 1,000.

Along with eight statewide Bull Moose locations and Newbury Comics in South Portland, participating stores are Deep Grove Records in Brunswick, Color Sound Oblivion in Biddeford, Niche, Inc. in Gardiner, Everyday Music in Farmington, The Record Connection in Waterville and Manny’s in Camden.

According to a report from music sales data provider Luminate, 2022 was stellar for sales of vinyl, which for the second consecutive year outsold CDs. Additionally, U.S. vinyl sales rose for the 17th straight year. Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” alone sold 945,000 copies. Unreal!

Two of my other favorite data nuggets are the fact that nearly half of all vinyl albums purchased came from independent record stores. So of the 43.46 million vinyl albums sold, 20.92 million were bought at places like Bull Moose or Newbury Comics. Can you hear me smiling?

Another notable statistic from a survey conducted by Luminate is that only half of U.S. vinyl buyers actually own record players. Mick Werkhoven, marketing manager for Bull Moose, was for a time, one of those people. “I collected records for four or five years before I got a record player,” she said. When she could afford the system she wanted, Werkhoven got herself set up and continues to be an avid collector who buys an average of one to two albums a week.

Devon Atwood and Mick Werkhoven holding 2023 Record Store Day releases at the Bull Moose store in Scarborough. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

In fact, Werkhoven’s first ever vinyl purchase was a 2012 Record Store Day release from Skrillex.

This year, Werkhoven is eyeing the Taylor Swift 2023 Record Store Day release “Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions.”

Devon Atwood is the assistant manager at the Bull Moose store in Scarborough and is also a Swiftie. Along with the Swift album, she hopes to pick up an RSD release from The Donnas.

Both of them said that the Swift vinyl is by the far the one that customers have been asking about the most. Same at Newbury Comics, said Mae Weeks, a key holder at the Maine Mall store.

A sign advertising Record Store Day at Newbury Comics at the Maine Maill in South Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Weeks said the store will open at 8 a.m. on Record Store Day, and shoppers should line up outside the exterior mall door closest to Orange Theory.

All Bull Moose locations are also opening at 8 a.m. Atwood, who was worked at Bull Moose for about 13 years, said she usually shows up at about 6:30 a.m. to greet customers.

Bull Moose and Newbury Comics will have Record Store Day releases in a special section.

I also couldn’t help but reach out to Chris Brown, the vice president of finance at Bull Moose, because I know that he’s obsessed with vinyl. His wish list from this year’s hundreds of titles includes ones from Chet Baker, Sun Ra, Ringo Starr and Dorsey Burnette.

Brown also shared that at Bull Moose stores vinyl sales in the first quarter of 2023 were up double digits compared to the first quarter of last year.

Brown was one of the key people credited with coming up with the idea for Record Store Day. The first one was on 2008, and for about the past dozen years, it’s celebrated officially in April and then with a Black Friday version after Thanksgiving.

Sean Moore, a literacy teacher in Durham, is a massive music fan and vinyl collector and his “home” store is the Brunswick Bull Moose. “Record Store Day is great because it’s truly for fans of music and the people that love collecting special items from artists and bands that they love,” he said.

Moore also appreciates that the day shines a light on independent record stores. “Taylor Swift made a point a few years ago of making sure indie stores got recognition when she sent signed copies of her albums ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’ as well as her re-recorded albums ‘Fearless” and ‘Red,’ which I’ve also collected. Moore sure hopes to end up with this year’s Swift RSD release as well as the Pearl Jam one.

I can’t tell you what I’m hoping to buy because I’m superstitious when it comes to this sort of thing. But if sometime after 10 a.m. on Saturday morning you hear a loud cry of delight floating around the clouds, it’s probably me shrieking with sweaty palms holding a couple of treasures.

Happy shopping!

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