On Saturday, April 22, music fans and collectors will flock to record shops looking for deals, exclusives, and giveaways to commemorate Record Store Day, which is celebrating its 10th year in 2017. For those in the Twin Cities in particular, the occasion will be bittersweet—it comes a year and a day after local music superstar Prince Rogers Nelson died at Paisley Park in Chanhassen.
At the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis, which was established in 1968 and is widely regarded as one of the top record store destinations in the country, Prince will have a lingering presence on Saturday, especially since the Purple One was the shop’s featured guest during last year’s Record Store Day festivities. “There’s a little bit of a Prince theme going on. There’s going to be a lot of people in town from the 21st through the 23rd for events at Paisley Park,” said Bob Fuchs, Electric Fetus record-store manager and employee of 30 years. “We’ll have a few exclusive Paisley shirts and hopefully a good number of the Prince 12-inch reissues, and we’ve been saving up our Prince used pieces that we have to feature that day. There’s a lot of Prince fans who will probably be here for Record Store Day because Prince came here last year.”
While some people in town this weekend may be primarily interested in mourning or celebrating Prince’s legacy, Record Store Day is meant to be a special occasion to bring those who are passionate about music and records together in brick-and-mortar stores. The Twin Cities especially have taken to the annual event and been affluent in the recent vinyl revival. “The vinyl resurgence has been quite amazing. Ten or 12 years ago, I thought, ‘Can we exist in this world any longer as the store that we are?’ With the reemergence of vinyl, the answer currently is yes, we can,” Fuchs said. “We were down to a couple bins of LPs 15 years ago, and now we’re closing in on having 50 bins of records again—new and used.”
For those unfamiliar with the Electric Fetus, it features everything from a gigantic CD and vinyl selection to jewelry and apparel. It’s truly a destination where music lovers can lose themselves for hours at a time. And with this rediscovered popularity of vinyl, the shop has more records and selection diversity than it’s had in a long time to look and shop through. “It’s the under-25 and under-30 crowd that’s really driving this resurgence,” Fuchs continued. “With the resurgence of LPs for music primarily aimed at younger people, every genre has seen a resurgence. Now people who were into records years ago are coming back because now the records they’re buying are being released on LP again.”
Meanwhile, in downtown Hopkins, the relatively new Mill City Sound is building a presence as it comes up on its three-year anniversary this summer. Owner Rob Sheeley is a Minneapolis native who wanted to open a record store in the southwest suburbs focusing primarily on vinyl, used and rare records, reissues, and 45s. “Who I appeal to are the collectors—the people that are really into vinyl, and they really want to find some more obscure titles, things you typically don’t find in a used record bin,” Sheeley said. In addition to supplying niche offerings for collectors, he takes pride in generally having a massive and diverse inventory. “We’re really trying to stock all of it,” he said. “For our new vinyl, we have almost 24,000 titles.”
What makes Mill City Sound’s collection so expansive is that Sheeley travels the country searching for collections to acquire and bring back to the Twin Cities area. This weekend, as part of the Record Store Day celebration, he’s opening a new section of his shop as its offerings continue to grow. “We’re concurrently opening what we call the lower groove of the lower level on Record Store Day,” he said. “There will be vinyl and stuff no one’s ever dug through that’s been sitting in the vinyl vaults.”
Maybe what’s most impressive at the store, and worth driving to Hopkins this weekend, will be the collection of 45s to drool over. “There’s people who just collect 45s,” Sheeley told me. “You start collecting 45s because they’re harder to find, they’re rarer, and there’s a lot of songs that ended up on a 45 that never ended up on an album—especially stuff in the ’50s and ’60s. It’s like finding gold nuggets, except they’re vinyl nuggets. We’re going to be opening up the largest 45 area of anywhere in the Midwest.”
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of Record Store Day or new to the event, and whether you’re loyal to one particular store or like to shop across town to find the right deal or album, Saturday marks a special occasion that offers something for everyone, regardless of age or background. The day will also be special for the shop owners, managers, and employees who get to see so many people coming through their doors. “There’s a pretty strong following here,” said Bob Fuchs. “This town supports the arts like no other. Whether it’s music or painting, or film, or music, or food—it’s a very educated demographic. Ever since the 2008–2009 economic fallout there’s been a real resurgence in buying locally, too.”
In addition to the Electric Fetus and Mill City Sound, the vast majority of Twin Cities record stores will be participating in Saturday’s celebration in some capacity. In Minneapolis, Treehouse Records, Roadrunner Records, Flashlight Vinyl, Know Name Records, and others will have their slew of offerings. In St. Paul and the eastern suburbs, Barely Brothers Records, Eclipse Records, GoJohnnyGo Records, and more will be destinations to check out.
“It’s a really great day of community. That’s what always stands out for me,” Fuchs said.
For Sheeley, the record-store experience offers more than simply picking out an album to listen to and purchase. “Part of the romance of record shopping is flipping through the bins and seeing that big jacket with the record.”