It began my freshman year, when I didn't think I was quite cool enough to even be in such a place, but everything was new so why not? I got to where I visited regularly, unintimidated by the knowledgeable (and intimidating) staff. Sometimes, I'd go into the chain record store on Franklin Street, listen to CDs, and then walk across the street to buy the one I wanted. Now, I often go just to meander, to inhale the smell, hear my feet on the wood floors, see what attractive rock stars or fans might happen to wander in. Just the other day, I went in to buy a copy of Blonde on Blonde because I finally learned to love Dylan enough to appreciate it.
While walking the block nearby, I like to notice the stickers from the top of CD wrappers people have stuck to the lid of the trash cans in their rush to open a new CD. The cellophane those trashcans have seen! The countless students that have run from the store to their dorms or cars to hear those first essential notes of that new, perfect album. The relationships that started while discussing which record to buy. The risks taken, buying an unknown band's work. The adventure that began when entering the doors of Schoolkids Records.
I can probably remember where most of my CDs came from—and the stories behind where and when I bought them. You don't get that with an MP3. A record store is a way of life, a mood, a community. It's all changing, and way too fast!
One day I went into Schoolkids because one of my favorite artists had a CD come out that week. I wandered the aisles, checked the spot where it should be, then asked the guy at the counter (because, oh, I don't know, I think it's fun to talk about music with people).
"Oh no!" he says. "I don't think we have that, but I think we have a promo."
He ended up giving me the copy they had been given for in-store play.
"Thanks," I said, and started to walk out, thinking to myself that this guy could never know how he made my night. Then I walked back in. Having planned to buy a CD that night, I decided to buy something else I'd wanted; two for the price of one.
That's the kind of thing—the interaction, the unplanned kindness—that is lost, will forever be lost when Schoolkids and others like it close their doors. I promised myself that night I would not buy from chain record stores ever again. I haven't, and my quality of life is better for it; I am sure. Who knows how much longer I will be able to keep this promise, though, as one by one they are forced to close. Price of progress, I guess, but that doesn't mean it's not painful.
Thanks for the memories, Schoolkids. Thanks for the moments and the music. You will be missed.
Schoolkids will close its doors Sunday, March 23.