Feature Stories

Record Stores Learn to Embrace Black Friday Without Getting Carried Away

Eventually everything rewarding or worth partaking in grows out of control. It’s just a sad truth. In the early 2000s, Black Friday was a simple day of discounts to kickstart the holiday shopping season. Then it took on a life of its own as big department and box stores built it into the money grab that it is, with long hours at the expense of their employees and misleading discounts. In recent years, the day after Thanksgiving has spiraled out of control into a ridiculous, sad scene of violence that produces countless embarrassing video clips for the evening news.

Then there's Record Store Day. Now in its eighth year, it has become a biannual event that takes place in April and on Black Friday, with the intention of celebrating independent record stores across the country. Since it has grown it has also become tradition to bitch about how awful it supposedly is for the independent record store because of the surge in limited-edition releases, which are expensive for mom-and-pop shops to stock. They even clog up production at record pressing plants, forcing artists not participating in RSD to delay the release of their albums.

But around here Record Store Day has always felt like a celebration. The efforts of local independent shops such as Good Records and Josey Records have made it a staple of our local music scene, and they go to great lengths to separate Black Friday Record Store Day from the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping hell and instead give music collectors an extra, fun day to celebrate vinyl culture.

“Anything that puts people’s focus at a record store is good,” says Chris Penn, co-owner and manager of Good Records on Lower Greenville. “It’s got good intent.”  So far, Penn’s kept his store’s Black Friday participation in check compared to the large corporations. This Friday, Good Records will open at 7 a.m. with free Hypnotic Donuts on hand and free beer from Upslope Brewing throughout the day. They’ll stay open till midnight and will feature the limited releases music collectors are seeking in addition to offering Adele, Leon Bridges and other current hot releases. For years, before Black Friday Record Store Day became a thing, Penn would have a sale the day after Thanksgiving, during normal business hours. But he’s never been willing to put unnecessary stress on his small staff and ask them to stop eating turkey early and rest up so he can open at 4 a.m.

Up in North Dallas, Josey Records will host its first Black Friday Record Store Day this year. Last year the store wasn’t open in time to participate, but Waric Cameron, the shop’s managing partner, is excited to join the tradition this year.

“We want to celebrate the vinyl culture and we want to celebrate the record store,” Cameron says. “It’s great for vinyl collectors, vinyl lovers and it’s great for local bands and DJs. There is nothing negative that we can see in our eyes.”

Cameron has read the stories and heard the chatter about the negatives surrounding Record Store Day, but he’s not letting that take away from Black Friday Record Store Day's potential to positively impact the community. Cameron believes Record Store Day is too much fun to happen just once a year, so he sees the Black Friday edition as a great midyear companion to the larger event. His store will be offering an exclusive record store release that won’t be available anywhere else in town: The local bands playing Josey Records this Friday — including The Azalea Project, Birds Of Night, Reinventing Jude, Taylor Louis and the Legacy and Howler Jr. — will be featured on a compilation EP sold on that day only.
“All the bands playing in Dallas are local bands that do not have music pressed on vinyl, but we thought, ‘Hey, listen, you’re a rocking band and we like your music. Come play our Record Store Day party and we’ll put together an RSD comp,’” Cameron says. “There just aren’t any stores doing that or supporting local artists that way. That’s a very big deal.”

Cameron reiterates Penn's sentiments. Black Friday Record Store Day isn’t about the commercialism that has plagued Best Buy and Target, or asking people to spend all their money because it’s a tradition; record stores have always represented the "counter culture," as Cameron puts it. It’s just about helping music lovers get the new red vinyl of that band they like, giving them a chance to see cool bands play and eating free food.

But even as it continues to grow, Black Friday won't eclipse the main Record Store Day anytime soon.

“We go all-out on Record Store Day. We were around for the very first one and we kinda embraced it and we made it the Super Bowl to us,” Penn says of Good Records. “Black Friday RSD is like a preseason game. It’s still cool and there’s some cool releases, but Record Store Day in April is like a record store’s birthday — the concept of a record store.”

Black Friday Record Store Day could easily grow out of control, but luckily, Dallas' independent shops aren’t taking it to those heights. 
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Mikel Galicia is a trap scholar, the softest writer on the scene and his photo game is jumping out the gym. His work has been published in Sports Illustrated, ESPN and every major Dallas publication.