I just saw that they're doing two drops for Record Store Day this year instead of doing just the one that they announced previously, for June 12 and July 17. You mentioned before your hope that if they decided to do the multiple dates again, they would schedule them a little further apart than they did last time. Obviously that doesn't look like it happened, so how are you feeling about the announcement?
I know that that was the goal of Record Store Day, but they had to kind of negotiate which days worked on an international level. And so the five weeks apart was the best that they could do. But two things. The weather in June and July is really nice here, so we don't have to deal with it being so cold in April [when Record Store Day is traditionally held]. And it's just two dates rather than three, so I think it's manageable.
What else is new?
Well, it's trying to be spring here. We did get some snow here earlier this week, but not like many other parts of the country, so that was good. And Wisconsin's doing really well with their vaccine rate, so things seem bright.
Have they given any more clarity as to when employees in retail stores might be eligible for the vaccine?
They haven't. The only real vocation that they added to the eligibility list was restaurant and bar employees last week. And I'm getting the feeling that they aren't going to add other sectors of employee categories rather than just opening it up based on preexisting [conditions] and age.
I was reading an article the other day where they were describing the hunt for vaccines in California as sort of like the Hunger Games -- people lingering in the aisles of drugstores and pharmacies at the end of the night hoping they have leftovers and that kind of thing. I'm wondering if that's kind of how it feels there too.
It definitely does. I joined this Facebook group that's about hunting for the vaccine and helping people make appointments that are eligible. And sometimes you just go down that rabbit hole and it feels a little crazy. I called a couple of pharmacies about leftover doses, and I just felt like such a pest. [Laughs] So I'll wait my turn.
I was reading another article about record stores in Southern California, and one store owner mentioned that he actually had supply issues during the pandemic. Was that ever a thing for you guys?
There were quite a few releases that were bumped in one way or another, and I think that was in part due to manufacturing kind of slowly coming back online after shutdowns affected different parts of the country. We have had, not so much the physical goods of CDs and LPs, but we've had other supply issues. Some turntable manufacturers were completely out of stock at the end of last year. The outer [plastic] sleeves that we use for our records, those have been out of stock now for five months, to the point where I had to find an alternative. And even just some things like shipping supplies. LP mailers [from] the company that we've used for years have been spotty with availability. So there are some parts of manufacturing that have struggled with keeping up with labor and materials.
Plastic sleeves are something you don't even think about. I never thought that's something that would ever go out of stock because it's just plastic...but obviously it's a specific kind of plastic.
Definitely. A friend of mine who's in the paint industry, they've had plastic shortages that they use for brushes and for rollers. So that's really affecting pricing for some of their products.
Has it affected pricing for you at all?
It hasn't so far, no.
I was doing a little research into the business environment in Wisconsin right now and how everything's going there. During the surge last fall in Wisconsin, this trade group called the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce sued to make sure that nobody but the state of Wisconsin could actually access records on which businesses were tied to COVID outbreaks. I guess the fear being that they would be branded if people knew where the outbreaks had come from.
And then you have people on the other side that have argued that that information should be released to the public so they can make informed decisions about what businesses are safe, and which potentially aren't. Obviously that's still an issue because the pandemic is ongoing, even though we have vaccines now. I'm wondering how you come down on that.
I have a friend who's in the grocery business, and I think they were really in the position that they were against that coming out because with them being so essential, especially during that time period, that more than likely some of their employees were going to contract the virus, presumably from people coming into the establishment. And they didn't want people to be scared to buy their groceries at the store, especially when they were taking all the precautions that they could. So part of me understands that, but I also understand the perspective on the other side of wanting to be informed, as far as where the more safe places to be might be.
It's really complicated because if they say, 'Oh this Ralphs supermarket or Strictly Discs or whatever was tied to this outbreak,' just hypothetically, the fear would be that people would blame the business for not being safe enough rather than customers coming in who are sick.
It's a little bit of a double edged sword. But then at the same time, you can sign up for those apps for your phone that will alert you if you've potentially been exposed. So I don't see how that's really different. I know it doesn't tell you who you've been exposed by or to whom, but it does alert you to a higher risk factor.
Another record store owner I saw interviewed for the story I mentioned earlier said it had been harder to come by used vinyl, because now that vinyl is sort of a big thing again that people are kind of holding on to their old records more. I'm just wondering if that's something you guys have noticed at all.
It's certainly a fear that that might happen down the road. It hasn't been something that we've experienced so far, but when you see the demographic of people who are buying records [getting] younger and younger, the prospects that some of those people might be holding onto these collections for an extended period is real, and so there might be less turnover of used product. But at the same time, you also have an aging demographic who collected records back in the heyday, that are still retiring or downsizing or just kind of purging things that maybe they aren't using right now. So I don't see it as an imminent fear, but certainly in our industry it is always on the back of your mind, making sure that you have product to sell.
One thing that helps too, [is] the fact that most of the major labels have gotten really aggressive at reissuing back catalogue, which helps. So you might not have a used copy of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, but you have a new one.