Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Proud, The Few, Dept.

Having ragged on the Apple Store and its substandard help, I have to take a moment here and give a shout-out to people who do it right.

I visited The Sound Garden in Bawlmurr today, as I generally do when in Charm City.  (I should say, "Bawlmurr, hon" just to keep the branding consistent.)  And those folks never fail to satisfy.

  • They always have the latest chart releases at great sale prices.  Which would be more meaningful to your sobsister if most of the music on the charts didn't suck massive donkey cock, but, hey, chacun à son goût.
  • Other recent releases are priced near or better than Amazon's prices.  Which is huge.  What killed the big record stores/Borders/vaudeville is the fact that they were selling CDs at list price, even as Amazon was selling them for, on average, 20-30% less.
  • Their buyer(s) rock(s).  I invariably find either things I've only seen in Brit music mags such as The Wire or MOJO--and not at no ripoff, margin-stretching markup--or stuff I didn't know existed that I suddenly realize I have to have.
  • They have tons of used CDs 4 cheep.
Now, when streaming music (i) fills out its catalogs (why no Joanna Newsom, MOG?) and (ii) gets with the CD-quality sound. then, really, the day of the great CD store will be over, save for those of us who need the accompanying 125-page hardbound book of liner notes replete with previously unpublished pix of the band.  Which may be why the few that are still in business are stocking up vinyl like hoarders buying Wonder bread and milk before a snowstorm.  

But, for now, shopping the great CD store is a lovely experience, thanks to convenience and, more importantly, serendipity.  I went in looking for one CD and came out with three and could've come out with 10.  That's not something I'll do online because of how the information is arranged.  And, no, "if you like Amy Grant, you'll like Revolting Cocks" doesn't make me click through to your typical online vendor's suggestion.

So, enjoy your well-curated CD/LP stores while they last.  Sound Garden is the best one between Philly and at least as far south as Richmond.  It's even on Rolling Stone's list of the 30 best record stores in the contiguous 48, for those as still consider RS to be an arbiter of taste.  I gave up when its coverage started being driven by what it thought its audience wanted to read rather than what it thought its audience should start hearing.  Or maybe when it became People magazine with rolling paper ads in the back.  But that's a story for another day.

So, The Sound Garden.  Vote with your wallets, kids, early and often.

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