The following is a guest editorial by former music critic and current owner of Vinyl Destination record store, Dave Perry. It was originally posted on Facebook on 3/19/17.
The new point of sale at Vinyl Destination – or POS as those of us in the business world like to call it – lends us a certain lofty air.
The beautiful old wooden piece we sit in is from a court house, that is for certain. Which one, we don’t know.
We envision it as a witness stand where thugs, cronies and co-conspirators have broken sweats and betrayed blood oaths. We tell people that. It’s a better story. The truth is, we don’t know for certain.
But we now see everything with fresh clarity.
And what I saw today I know I would not have seen until the last couple of years.
Women. Women in a record store, shopping with intent. There have always been exception, of course. But often, they would drop men at the door, frown, roll their eyes then head off somewhere else.
Men carried the weight of their obsessive need to look at records with a shrug then did what they do – form clubs of common misery. Oh, the wife/girlfriend won’t let me bring in any more records, ha-ha. Woe is me.
But yesterday, a day when lots of people came in, women shoppers outnumbered the men.
It used to be a man’s sickness, record collecting. Not anymore. The annual year-end stories noting whopping percentage increases in vinyl sales are fun and certainly telling of numbers. But this is something else.
Women are right up there at record shows, elbowing their way to first shots at boxes of new arrivals with the best.
I wish I knew what it meant. I wish I knew where and when this all turned. I don’t.
But I do know the coolest customers I had yesterday were female. Taste. The guitar player from Boston who clutched the obscure Wayne Shorter alum, snagged Lee Konitz and then asked, “Do you have any Prefab Sprout?”
The perky twins with the new turntable who seemed thrilled to find Cosmo’s Factory.
The former babysitter, now a mom, bringing her own 15-year-old daughter to buy a copy of Rarities by The Beatles.
The older woman who bought a new turntable and was slowly replacing the collection she dumped years ago.
“Now,” she said in a hushed but determined voice at the checkout, reminding me of my own mom, “how am I going to know if these are okay?”
Reassured, she bought the used Otis Redding and Robert Cray records. I felt an urge to clean my room.
There was the young woman who messaged the night before to ask if we had any punk/hardcore/metal. She grabbed a Death record, Air’s Virgin Suicides soundtrack and Godspeed You Black Emperor.
The woman right behind her was beyond thrilled to find a copy of Ella in Berlin to fit in the bag right next to the Stones’ Black and Blue.
But my favorite was a woman, 30s, who wandered in followed in short order by her two children. The pink-cheeked boy was in his teens, the girl a bundle of unbridled energy in a Batman costume, her tongue red from a bottle of sugary juice she suckled. You could see the tongue every time she screeched. I saw the tongue a lot.
The boy stood in front of the Sound tracks, pulling each record up as he went. The row began to look like a cresting wave.
“Mom, look” he said at one point, “they have “Star Wars.”
Mom wasn’t there.
She stood directly behind him, her back to his, in the rock section, staring longingly at a copy of the Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits. She smiled faintly, then fidgeted with the tight kinks of her red hair.
She looked at that cover for longest time, as if it were a mirror and she were Kim Kardashian.
Batgirl broke the spell, screeching her restlessness. “Let’s go somewhere!”
It pierced the perfect pop of the Chills song on the store stereo.
A man appeared in the doorway, looked at the scene, nodded at the woman and left. Did they know one another? Was this a husband?
The woman picked up the record and took it with her to the New Arrivals section.
The kids vanished into the hallway.
She shopped longer, holding the time like a life jacket.
She dropped Steve Miller back into his slot and picked up the Hunger Games sound track.
I had read too much into this. Was it silly to think a record jacket would bring back so much? Maybe this new perspective was too tempting. Stop judging. Stop reading things into this. Shut up, play records, swipe cards.
The lone customer left in the store, she approached the bench. She plunked down a 50 cent record, that Hunger Games record. One more. Cyndi Lauper. She’s So Unusual. The one with “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
Dave Perry’s record store, Vinyl Destination, is located in Mill No. 5 in downtown Lowell, Massachusetts. We interviewed Dave last year.