Record stores are a home away from home for people who love music – vinyl-lovers, especially. For many, there’s nothing better than heading down to your local record store for an afternoon, flicking through the new additions, digging for a gem and giving that rare find a spin on the turntable. But, like anywhere filled with people with a passion, there are going to be certain unwritten rules to abide by. This, for some, can make walking into a record store a daunting experience, not just for newbies, but even vinyl lovers with a little less confidence.
But, fret not! Vinyl Chapters has created a guide to record store etiquette with a set of rule-of-thumb pointers to help everyone play nice and keep the shop owner on your good side. These are just a few helpful guidelines to keep everyone happy and make sure you enjoy your trips to this most sacred of places.
Treat Records With Respect
Records deserve to be treated with care, especially ones you haven’t bought yet. If the record store allows you to check the quality of unsealed records, make sure you don’t put your fingers all over the grooves; hold at the sides and make sure your hands are clean. When replacing records, do so carefully without damaging the sleeve and don’t force the record back in; we all know how that ends, and you don’t want to get charged for any damage. Check out this guide to handling vinyl for some great tips.
Listening Station Etiquette
Some record stores will have listening stations where you can test out records you may wish to purchase. It’s also a great way to test for any scratches that could affect the record’s sound quality. Once again, there are a few basic rules to follow. Don’t bring a tonne load of records over with you; there are likely to be people waiting to try out records themselves. 3 or 4 is probably the max you should bring over, and don’t spend longer than 15 minutes listening – less if there’s a queue or no other stations free. Also, don’t bother using cheap, scratched records at the listening stations; discount bin records for a pound are not likely to be the best of quality and therefore could damage the record player needle – you don’t want the shop owner on your bad side.
Chat To People, But Only If They Seem Interested!
Record Stores should be a hub of conversation, information swapping and general camaraderie between people with a passion for music. By talking you might find your new favourite band or get tips on other places where the digging is good. But, bear in mind not everyone comes to the record store to talk, some enjoy just digging in their own personal space. So, if you do try to strike up a conversation with someone, take the hint if it doesn’t look like they want to reciprocate.
Don’t Open Sealed Records
This is a must unless you want to end up having to purchase the record whos seal you just broke. Used records are usually fine to check for scratches, etc, but if they’re sealed, it’s for a reason. Usually, this means it’s a brand new record, in which case you don’t need to check, or it’s an expensive or special edition vinyl. This is a big no-no, so don’t do it!
Phones OFF In The Record Store
This one should go without saying. Don’t wander around the store on your phone when people are in the zone digging or listening to whatever is playing in the store. If you do you’ll get a few hard stares and might even be asked to take the call outside by the owner. And that’s the polite way of putting it.
There Will Be Music Snobs
Like any hobby where you end up in a room with enthusiasts, there will be snobs. In general, the vinyl community is a fun loving family with people willing to help out newbies, respect others music choices and just out for a good time. But the more you frequent record stores, the more chance there are of bumping into someone who will scoff at your musical knowledge, belittle your tastes and generally be an idiot. Even some staff can act like this, but it’s few and far between. The best way to deal with this is to just let them get on with it, ignore the snide remarks and try not to stoop to their level by arguing back – that’s usually what they want.
Don’t Hide Records
One of the worst things you can do in a record store is to hide a record. By this, I mean if you see a record you want but you don’t have enough money to purchase it at that very moment, taking it and hiding it somewhere at the back of a section that has nothing to do with the record so no fans can find it. This is devious and underhanded, and if you’re caught doing it, you’ll most likely be chucked out and asked never to return.
Don’t Find Then Buy Online
This is once again, a big no-no. Record stores are the hub of the community for vinyl enthusiasts, and the buying of records online is seen by many as killing the industry. Yes, their prices may be slightly higher than on the likes of Amazon, but that extra money is going towards the stores rent, any overheads, and providing record-lovers with a brick and mortar store so you can join in the vinyl community and meet like-minded people. Always support your local record store. If you don’t, it won’t be around for long.
Crate Digging Etiquette
People take crate digging very seriously. There’s nothing worse flicking through records and someone else starts to flick through the same crate as you. Just don’t do it. Don’t even watch, just wait until they’ve finished then you can have a look. It’s even a good idea to leave at least one row between where you are digging and the person next to you – no one likes their personal space being invaded, do they? Think of it the same as men’s urinal etiquette!
Pretty basic really. The price is what the price is. No questions.
john ross scarcelli says
Vinyl’s are are great hobby. Please be respectful to your collection.
Music through this Pandemic is an excellent way of releasing your Mental, Emotional and Physical emotions.
Try this remedy.
60″s – The British Invasion
70’s – Motown
80’s – Disco -Hip Hop
90’s You pick your Genre.
Wow! What a journey.
I feel better.
I do everyday.
Music is an international language.
Jamie Parmenter says
Thanks for the comment, John! That sounds like a great remedy to us! For many people, thankfully music is always around to help in times of crisis, with some of the best music created because of it. Stay safe too.
Ok, but here’s something further on the crate-digging front. It is obvious when someone is looking through a row of boxes that they are starting in one end (say, the left), and moving in a direction (say, to the right). It is the height of rudeness to go ahead of the person who is looking, like starting just after the crate your fellow digger is in. I have had this happen so many times at record stores yes, but also at garage sales and record shows. This behavior is infuriating because it shows such selfishness and disregard for your fellow music-lover. Whoever gets there first gets dibs; that’s just an unspoken understanding. This is about respect, or the lack thereof!!!
I don’t agree with this take. So if you’ve just started with the A’s, no one is allowed to jump in anywhere in the alphabet? Can they start with the D’s or is that too close? M’s? I appreciate not being crowded, and will make the effort to extend that courtesy to others. But at the same time, if I want to flip through all the crates at a store, I usually have a finite time I want to devote to it, so sometimes you’ve just got to get in there and start flipping. I really don’t have time to wait for you to methodically go through every crate before I can start.
Of course there are rude people who will crowd you, but I think you may be the one showing “selfishness and disregard for your fellow music-lover”, as you put it. I don’t think one should get all possessive over a rack of crates when you can only flip through one crate at a time. Especially at crowded record shows; if that one crate marked “New Wave/80s” I’ve been dying to get into finally becomes available with no one actively flipping through it at long last, I’m swooping in to take my turn that I’ve waited for, before all the good stuff is gone. Even if someone else is flipping through the next crate over. Sorry, not sorry.
If you’re really that squicked out by proximity to other humans, I recommend shopping exclusively at Discogs.