You may be wondering why this round corporate logo is posted above as opposed to a more representative image. Honestly, it is representative of what I’m going to talk about today. In the past decade or so since America has experienced such a steep economic downturn-taking much of the world down with it frankly, record stores have begun to become more and more scarce. And along with that online shopping has become ascendant. Getting music from a store is extremely difficult. Especially if your looking for music that’s outside the mainstream Top 10 pop music arena. At least in my own neck of the woods, one thing I’ve noticed since the demise of most of the huge record store chains such as Virgin Megastore,Tower Records,Musicland and Strawberries is not only the rebirth of the brick and mortar record shops, but of the preponderance and variety of music that has begun to be found at the many second hand stores all over the state of Maine in particular. One of the most prominent for me,to explain what this image means, is the Goodwill-which could actually be considered to be a chain of sorts.
There are probably a dozen Goodwill’s within fifty miles of my area. Two right in the neighborhood and one only half a mile up the road. Usually towards the back of the store they have one high rack with three levels. The lower is usually for vinyl LP’s,the middle for cassettes and CD. Because the Goodwill depends on donations, the variety of used music to be found there is actually very wide and expansive. Of course with the standard high level of teen pop CD’s by Hilary Duff and the endless Backstreet Boys cereal box premiums with the red and blue covers that seem to be in near endless supply, I’ve actually found some of the most prominent jazz and R&B albums in my music collection there. I found my CD copy of Sonny Rollins Saxophone Colossus there,along with Dave Brubeck’s Jazz At Oberlin-also on CD as well as funkier records by such as John Scofield’s Bump,Al Jarreau’s Hearts Horizon and Grover Washington Jr’s classic Winelight. This are only relatively common CD’s to find used elsewhere. But if one is patient they can often be found at at Goodwill at prices that are very reasonable for low income people.
One local small business that I’ve found even more inexpensive musical treasures at would by Edge Video. Their primary trade is in DVD rentals and purchases. And their store is always entirely on sale in some way, and they cater to some degree to people looking for used electronics and gaming accessories to an even greater degree than Goodwill even. The one in my area recently moved and expanded to include an even larger CD bin. There I’ve found an assortment of albums by everyone from David Wekl to Bobby Lyle. One of the main disadvantages of such places, the Goodwill in particular, is they sometimes have trouble with security. Often times you’ll open a CD case and find a CD damaged beyond playability, or find an empty case with no CD at all. This seldom seems to occur with vinyl LP’s and cassette tapes for some reason. Luckily this is a problem I’ve rarely encountered. And it seems as though now some steps are being taken to remedy some of this problem.
Interestingly enough I never see too many people looking in the record racks of discount stores when I am there. And if they are they are usually looking for the more readily available teen pop and country-western records that are most popular in this area. Video game accessories and movies seem to be the biggest attraction of these places. Its a perfect sociological example of how, even in our habits as sometimes willing consumers, many of us are seeking more visual than aural stimulation in the things that bring us pleasure and (if applicable) enlightenment. Even the printed word of books and novels seem to go over well as sellable items in these places. To some recording shopping in such discount stores might be the modern obsession with “swag”, or pirate booty for all intents and purposes: the idea of something given and something gained. To myself anyway, the appeal of the actual music I find to my ears and consciousness far outweighs the appeal of paying a humongous amount of money on a rare record somewhere else. I am not a cheapskate. But the idea of finding CD’s I am either curious about or looking for at an expensive price brings some humanity back into music for me. And personally I happen to be a humanist.
*These videos are about vinyl collecting, but they very much reflect what I am referring to in this article.