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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Where Will We Go Now?
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

With Virgin announcing the closing of all the Virgin Megastores across the country, the FYE in Fairfield packing up its things and calling it a day, and Tower, Sam Goody and Nobody Beats The Wiz being nothing more than distant memories, true school music consumers have a quandary on their hands – where the heck are we going to go now?

The question is one that doesn’t just focus on the actual buying of music, but also on the notion that for a lot of people stores like Virgin were hang out spots. In December a buddy of mine and I were roaming around NYC and made an effort to make it to the Virgin Megastore in Times Square. The two level space provided a few hours of entertainment and yes, we even ended up buying a few things as it’s almost impossible not to if you hang out in a store long enough.

Hours of my life have been spent looking through discount bins to find rare or forgotten gems. In that particular Times Square session I found an Ace of Base Japanese import CD in the $5 bin. It was enough of an oddity for me to pick it up. Going on a website like Amazon.com this would have never happened. They don’t have such a bin. I don’t count clicking on a “$5 albums” section because Amazon knows the “correct” price of everything and there is zero chance of finding an oddity in there. In fact, I looked up the Ace of Base CD on Amazon (is talking about this purchase totally ruining my street cred? I knew I should have talked about the Public Enemy import. I knew it! I knew it!), their price for it new was over $40. The same thing happened when I found an old No Limit Records release in an FYE dollar bin, the price for the tape on Amazon broke the $40 barrier.

I’ve also used record stores (I’m going old school with my terminology) as meeting places, most notably the Virgin Megastore in Union Square. The city is huge and when Whenever I’ve wanted to meet someone in that area the easiest thing to do has always been to say “meet at the Virgin” (no, this was not some code for finding rookie hookers. Though, now with the death of the stores it might be). This made sense because record stores are (or I guess were) landmarks unlike any other type of store. Bookstores will garner you dirty looks for being loud, and clothing stores will have employees tracking you if you happen to be browsing for more than ten minutes. Yes, I realize, these are not acts that keep a store in business, and the business aspect of things is what’s killed off the record store, but the fact is people were constantly IN these stores. The stores should have been able to sell them something.

As a thirty year old I am part of a generation that grew up waiting for Tuesday. When new releases came out we all wanted to be the first to get them. There was one Super Tuesday back in my college days (September 29th, 1998) when Outkast, Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def & Talib Kweli and Brand Nubian all released albums. The question wasn’t “are you going to the record store,” it was “which albums are you going to buy?” It was almost a community thing. We didn’t go to the store singularly, but in groups.

There’s no such thing as a Super Tuesday now. Discount bins are disappearing by the second (if the FYE in Trumbull Mall closes I’ll really be S.O.L.) and a public that’s become content with staying at home and logging on to purchase music seems fairly oblivious as to what we’re really losing here.

I’d like to think that there are still plenty of people out there like me who long for the days of going to multiple record stores in one Tuesday afternoon, or of going through discount bins until one’s eyes became blurry from reading too many album covers. I’d like to think that there are still plenty of people who think it’s kind of lame to log on to purchase their music and that there’s nothing cool about little white earbuds.

Call me a dinosaur if you want, but the death of the record store is a personal flatline for yours truly, as well. When I roam through a city, or town, or even my own town, I now feel as though I have nowhere to go. Where can I spend an hour looking at music and entertainment with a group of friends? Where can we spend that kind of time hanging out without being forced to purchase a drink of some kind, but it alcoholic or caffeinated?

The internet was supposed to connect people, but in the case of the music world it’s only making us drift further and further apart and the question remains – where will we go now?

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.

Labels: , ,

posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:45 AM  
  • At 3:33 PM, Blogger Paul Gargano said…

    I don't know about you, but I'm going to Disneyland...

  • At 12:20 PM, Blogger Always Home and Uncool said…

    Loved the article, Adam. iTunes and Amazon provide convenience but there is nothing like scouring the racks and dicovering a great deal on long-sought fave or discovering a new fave at the listening booth. Cheers.

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