Several years ago - in 2005 at the age of 44 - I was lucky enough to manage this record store in the Beaches in Toronto. It was a dream job and, even though I was only running things there for about 7 1/2 months, I will remember it fondly for the rest of my life. Music has always been my biggest passion and the opportunity to come in every day, choose the "soundtrack" for the store, talk to the music company reps and spend my time among people who shared this passion was the highlight of my wide-ranging employment history.
Unfortunately, however, this was still a couple of years before the first Record Store Day, which took place in 2007. From wikipedia: "Record Store Day is an internationally celebrated day observed the third Saturday of April each year. Its purpose, as conceived by independent record store employee Chris Brown, is to celebrate the art of music. The day brings together fans, artists, and the over 700 independently owned record stores in the United States, along with hundreds of independent record stores across the world." I think it's been a terrific idea since the get-go and judging from the way the music community has rallied around it I would say mine is a popular opinion.
For anyone who has ever spent a few hours thumbing patiently through dusty racks of vinyl records hoping to score an elusive out-of-print recording or wandered the aisles of the local Sam the Record Man with an armful of new releases, Record Store Day is a throwback to those glorious days of musical discovery. In my own case, I would often be so excited with my purchases that I would peel off the cellophane on the subway ride home in order to read the liner notes from front to back, long before I would even be able to hear the record itself. It's precisely these memories that cause me to continue to buy pre-packaged CDs instead of downloading albums onto my hard drive, for to this day I far prefer the tactile experience of opening my new treasures for the first time.
In Toronto, Sunrise Records has been a champion of Record Store Day for many years now. Most of the up-to-date information is better found on their Facebook site. The flagship store at Yonge & Dundas is a wonderfully funky place to shop on a "normal" day; on this special day it's practically vibrating with positive energy. They are well worth checking out.
Other great sources of information about this really cool day: the official Record Store Day website; a blog post by Grant Lawrence on the CBC website listing his personal Top 10 Record Stores in Canada; and a cool post in The Torontoist from earlier this week entitled Lost Tunes, which takes a look at some gone-but-not-forgotten record stores in Toronto. Many of these old stores were quite important to me in my youth and I remember them fondly.
If you read this post too late to take advantage of the awesomeness of Record Store Day this year, remember it's an annual celebration and well worth your time in the future, especially if you still thrill at the thought of bringing home some brand-new music and opening it for the very first time.