Stephen Judge didn’t sleep Friday night. Saturday would be his first Records Store Day as owner of Raleigh’s Schoolkids Records. In its fifth year, Record Store Day offered hundereds of limited-run releases to bolster independent shops that have just had to pay their taxes. Determining what records to stock is always a gamble. Judge figured that Schoolkids would do well, but he couldn’t be sure.
“When I pulled into the back parking lot at 7:30 in the morning there were no cars parked in the Sadlack's spots. I thought, ‘Oh no, there’s nobody here,’ Judge recalls. “I walked around the corner, and there was a line past the Bell Tower Mart. That sense of relief just hit me.”
Schoolkids shattered the record set last Record Store Day for their best-ever sales day; Judge estimates that Saturday bested that performance by about 25 percent. He says the line stayed steady at about 100 people for almost four hours past when they opened their doors at 9 a.m.
Judge, a Schoolkids veteran who took over the shop earlier this month, was there on many huge release days in the ‘90, including when Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion double release set a record that held until last year.
"We doubled that number on Saturday," he said. "I used to talk about that day like I’d never see a day that big again, and we doubled it. It’s not even worth talking about any more. It doesn’t even register."
Schoolkids wasn’t the only Triangle store to see success Saturday. From banner days to first-time RSD participants, other shops made their presence known.
Two area stores jumped into the Record Store Day arena for the first time, both of them in Raleigh.
The Wake County location of Nice Price Books celebrated the day, gathering about 30 exclusive releases and stockpiling quality used records for the occasion. Store clerk Enoch Marchant said the strategy was successful as the festive atmosphere inspired people to drop substantial cash on rare second-hand items.
The store also teamed with local label Diggup Tapes, which offered a smattering of RSD releases, for an in-store concert that featured Brian Corum of Lonnie Walker and Autumn Ehinger of Cassis Orange.
“We actually had a line out the door, which is probably a first for us,” Marchant said. “We had a lot of people coming in, a lot of people buying stuff and a lot of people that we hadn’t seen before and hopefully will see again.”
Newly opened used-vinyl hub In The Groove Records also took part. The store has dug into the area’s punk scene, offering up items from local label Sorry State Records. In the Groove continued that partnership with its lone RSD exclusive, scoring 20 copies of Whatever Brains’ limited-run 7-inch.
“Two of my regulars were waiting on the steps at 10:30, and they helped me get things going for the day,” owner Greg Rollins wrote in an e-mail. “I had eight people on the floor at one point, and that is when it starts getting crowded.”
The Triangle’s other mainstay shops got back into the act Saturday, striving to build on past success.
Durham's Bull City Records and Offbeat Music both enjoyed success. A line stretched outside the Brightleaf Square courtyard when Offbeat opened its doors Saturday, and owner Patrick McKenna estimates that the store did about 50 percent better than last year.
Bull City celebrated its first RSD in its new Hillsborough Road location and focused its efforts on making it a fun event. Jason Kutchma of Red Collar and Rich McLaughlin of The Pneurotics serenaded shoppers in line outside the store, and High Point-based boutique label Three Lobed Records gave out free LPs to the first 10 people in line. The next 20 had to settle for free CDs.
“Thankfully the trend of outselling the previous year's RSD is still running, which is good,” Bull City owner Chaz Martenstein wrote in an e-mail. “It means more people are getting excited about the day and taking part. Truthfully, I kinda hope it plateaus in the next couple years. I worry it might get too big for itself! My sales increased by about 25 percent this RSD compared to last.”
In Carrboro, All Day Records took part for the second straight year. Despite worries that the store might not be as hot this year — All Day opened shortly before RSD last year — they recorded a better sales day than 2011 with only a small amount of exclusive releases.
Chapel Hill’s CD Alley had a good outing as well. As of Monday, owner Ryan Richardson had yet to crunch the numbers but estimated that the shop had performed comparably to its sales over the past five years.