All indie record stores in Lancaster bow down to Stans Records who has been in business since 1955. They are actually not on the list of participating stores for Record Store Day, but because of the history here, we felt we had to visit them just because. And not really to our surprise:) this was a great interview. We asked manager Mark Glessner what he thought about the changes in the music biz and how they have effected sales for his store. He really thought about this questions for a moment and said that he wants to say the “CD killed the music business”. But he wasn’t sure how to explain this so that people wouldn’t get the wrong idea. Stans Records is filled with new and used vinyl in bins and boxes and CDs, which are stacked on the walls. They even carry cassettes, which I witnessed 2 individual sales of while I was in the store.
Mark said he just can’t move CD’s. With major retail chains like Walmart and, now out of business, Circuit City selling the CD for less then wholesale price, there is just no way to compete with that. How are indie retailers suppose to make $$, when you buy something for $12 wholesale, put it on your shelf for $16 and someone down the road is selling it for $9.99?
What keeps Stans Records going is vinyl. He said now days he does get some kids coming in and buying vinyl with their parents, but he said he finds a lot of mid-aged adults are down loading music like crazy. So he mostly has 13-18 yr olds coming in to the store to buy vinyl. Mark says his top selling artists are still bands like, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, The Doors, and the Beatles. Teens and young adults are buying these artists albums on vinyl and having their own listing parties. “They are inheriting turntables, listening to vinyl, and realizing they want the whole package, sound quality, & artwork”, said Mark. Even thought they might not know how to explain it, they are realizing better sound quality. They are suffering from what Mark calls “digital fatigue”. Mark explained to us how people really don’t listen to music anymore. You don’t find people sitting around doing nothing else but that. I can agree totally.
When I was going up, my dad, on chilly Sunday afternoons, would sit in the basement on a bar stool, smoke cigarettes, drink a beer, and listen to music for hours! He would change record after record and he would suck me into listening while teaching me about the great bands we were listening to. And there we were dissecting songs, talking about amazing vocals and instrumentation. I would attribute this to my love for music today and why my whole adult life has been dedicated to working in the music business. But when Mark brought “digital fatigue” to my attention I started to think about all the things people do now, and more so than ever, while listening to music: drive, walk, workout, read, clean, work, wait in line, wait on the phone, watch TV!… and it made me realize that he was right. I don’t know anyone who really takes the time to just listen, really listen to music. So in turn it has become more of a filler and people are not realizing the un-clarity and noisiness of digital.
Mark said he asked a 13yr old girl that came into his store why she wanted the 1st pressed Doors album. She told him about the listening parties her and friends have so they can listen to vinyl. He asked her, “but why vinyl”, and she said, “I like how it makes me feel.” This helps prove Marks claim of, “digital fatigue”. This 13yr old girl discovered the warmth and feeling a vinyl recording puts out and her and her friends were self medicating.
Mark showed us something on Youtube.com that made all of this become crystal clear. We highly suggest if you have the time, you check this out too. It’s called, “Loudness War“. It will fully make you understand the untouchable quality that comes from vinyl and how maybe Mark’s theory is correct about the CD killing the industry. If you make the general public think that something compact or, now down loadable & digital, is the best (loud) quality way to listen to music, then who will purchase big honking records.
Mark said over the past 20 yrs they have went from 500 people a week coming into the store to now seeing maybe the same person once or twice a year. When we asked him about Record Store Day, he said he wishes the labels would get behind indie stores more. If they are offering exclusive products for that day, to make it a little more cost effective and create pieces consumers actually want to buy.
48 North Prince St
Lancaster PA 17603