Two Delaware record shops have signed on to a socially distanced Record Store Day that will split the annual event into three days.
Instead of 500 records being released on on day, they will be released in smaller batches in August, September and October.
“We don’t want big crowds this year,” said Todd Brewer, owner of Rainbow Records in Newark. “So instead we’re doing three smaller ones.”
In the background of one call, Brewer could be heard asking someone who had just entered the shop to please use hand sanitizer before going through the records.
A video of the last Record Store Day held at the Main Street store in April 2019 shows hundreds of people lined up waiting to get into the store. Some people waited outside the shop all night.
Aug. 29 will be the first of the new three-part national event, RSD Drops. It traditionally has taken place in April to bring business into local record shops all over the country, as well as a little jingle to musicians. The two other parts will be Sept. 29 and Oct. 24.
“Prior events have been as much about the gatherings, parties, concerts and ‘group hang’ element of a celebration as the special releases,” said a Record Store Day press release. “In this unprecedented global situation, the focus of these RSD Drops dates is on bringing revenue to the stores, as well as to the artists, labels, distribution and every other business behind the scenes making record stores work.”
Rainbow Records has been a part of Record Shop Day since its inception in 2007.
“The event is designed to keep us in business,” said Brewer, “Artists and labels put out new or rare records on the same day in April and make them only available to small record stores.”
Extended Play, a record store in Rehoboth Beach, has been celebrating Record Store Day since the store opened two years ago. Extended Play is an extension of Gidget’s Gadgets, which has been participating in the event for six years.
“We’re trying to push the record side of business over to this store, but we do Record Store Day at both,” said Jackson Beckner, the manager of Extended Play. “We get a big crowd. At Extended Play we have a line past the next two stores. At Gidget’s Gadgets we get a line down past the book shop.”
Record Shop Day began as a small event 13 years and has grown into an international spectacle hosted by record shops on every continent. The same organization also hosts Black Friday events and contests throughout the year.
“People tell us what they want, and we order them from RSD,” Brewer said. “The night before the event we shoot a video and post it online to show our customers what we got in stock.”
Instead of the traditional 500 releases on one day, about 130 will be released each day of the RSD Drops program to spread out the choices and the crowd.
This year Rainbow records is offering curbside pickup and is thinking about doing local delivery later in the day.
“A lot of these records are limited runs,” Brewer said. “Some of them only get a few thousand copies. We’re dedicated to our committed customers. The people who wait in line will have our priority. Once they’re through, we’ll start curbside pickup and then delivery.”
Extended Play is handling the situation a bit differently.
“We’re going to have spots on the ground for people to stand in line,” said Becker. “We’re also thinking about having people get appointments the first couple of hours to limit the amount of people in the store.”
Extended Play will also be offering online sales and same day pickups. However, they will not be able to hold records for people who can’t pick them up that day.
Brewer said Record Store Day isn’t his most profitable day of the year, but it’s great for marketing.
“About 25% of the people who shop with us on that day are brand new,” he said. “The Record Store Day website recommends shops in people’s areas. We get a lot of people from Philadelphia and Baltimore. When the new people come in and like what they experience, they become our customers.”
In Rehoboth, Extended Play sees a lot of tourism traffic, but still sees Record Shop Day as highly profitable over time and great for marketing.
Record collecting is a niche, and fans know to go the RSD site, Becker said.
“Being on the site brings in a lot of business, he said. “Record Shop Day isn’t the most profitable day of the year, but we do the most sales. The day always brings a huge boost to our online sales as well.”