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Oct 3, 201408:55 AMArt Beat

Local Record Stores

Oct 3, 2014 - 08:55 AM
Local Record Stores

Photography by Britt Macaulay

Beside the tattoo parlor, beneath a clutch of two-room rental units, two doors down from a nascent art gallery and in the back room at your local café, there are those who have been working diligently to gather a finely curated collection of crated vinyl for you to buy. And I contend that you should.


Why do record stores matter? Thanks to the Internet, finding the exact release you are looking for is just a click and Paypal account away. But for all that the web has given us, it has also taken as much away.

Remember CD shops? No, I don’t miss the CD’s inferior quality, but I do miss the stores that used to sell them. Every record-store owner I’ve spoken to has sold the value of the record store to me as the value of the culture and scene it creates or sustains. They have become the brick-and-mortar equivalent of the radio D.J. call-in shows from the days of yore, with knowledgeable and passionate staff happy to answer even your least-Google-able music question.


Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, Red Lion and Mechanicsburg each serve as home to at least one independent record store worthy of your patronage.


Some of these stores serve up a crate-digger’s dream of beat-up cardboard boxes, milk crates and shelves of alphabetized (sometimes) finds, haphazardly leaning against each other and grouped by genre, used or new. If this is your ilk, try Stan’s Record Bar (48 N. Prince St., Lancaster) and Tom’s Music Trade (57 N. Main St., Red Lion), but if you instead like to ogle the recent releases pressed with the finicky audiophile in mind, you might wander over to Little Amps (1836 Green St. & 133 State St., Harrisburg) or Mr. Suit Records (118 W. Chestnut St., Lancaster) and troll their ever-growing collections of perfectly selected slabs for newer releases.


If punk rock is your thing, stop in to Angry, Young and Poor (356 W. Orange St., Lancaster). Those on a mission to find the rarest releases in the genre search their site and find their way into the store to dig up a treasure or two.

Stan’s Record Bar has been a stalwart of vinyl collectors since the mid-1950s, while The BohoZone (144 N. Prince St., Lancaster) sprung into existence less than two years ago.


Lancaster boasts the most walkable cadre of stores in close vicinity, with five of them rounding out just a few city blocks, but don’t let convenience dissuade you from hitting up Record Smith (16 N. Market St., Mechanicsburg) so that it doesn’t go the way of Besides Records, which closed its doors after seven years of serving the same market.


CI Records (226 N. Prince St., Lancaster) has put to use the unique ability of the record store to not only facilitate sale of various new vinyl releases, but to put on concerts, release original tunes on its own indie label and serve the public with oodles of offerings for the local music aficionado. Their claim to fame is the initial production and release of music from the home-grown heavy metal band August Burns Red, which has achieved national recognition, but on July 17, CI is bringing them back to town to perform alongside a host of other musicians.

At its heart, the scene and these stores exist because records matter. Done right, the packaging of the product, the art on the cover and the weight and color of the vinyl all enhance the listening experience. If you haven’t heard how the depth of tones in a song pressed to vinyl compares to that tinny mp3 you’ve been playing from your iPhone, then you’re definitely missing something.


But the good news is that there are still a few places you can go to cut your teeth on the real thing and a few folks who care enough to tell you about it.


Check out bonus photos for this story in our photo gallery here.

Oct 5, 2014 06:04 am
 Posted by  Donna

So fun to hear about record shops since they seem to be vanishing from times gone by!

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About This Blog

Art matters from a financial, cultural vibrancy and economic growth perspective, and ultimately it affects the quality of life for those with access to it. It's the visceral impact of the arts that hits hard and lingers long:  the way that an indelible image may worm its imprint into your eye and then mind and then dreams.  The forlorn droop of a melody, and the sign of resignation from a local trumpet player's final note. The unbearably gorgeous and aching silence of the final scene of a film shot in our region.  Every one of these offerings exists here in the midstate, and beats strong with art, and we must support it.


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