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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Used vinyls trump new releases on Record Store Day

Jamie Finkelstein | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Jamie Finkelstein | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Record Store Day is every hipster’s dream holiday – if you have a thick wallet.

After I received a new record player for Christmas (yes, one of those cute ones from Urban Outfitters), I was excited to celebrate the event for the first time.

Thousands of independent record stores around the world give artists a chance to release new vinyls, reissue old ones and offer fans exclusive new tracks or live recordings. The participating stores reap the benefits from an influx of customers hoping to get their hands on the limited edition releases.

After hopping around a few stores in the District, I realized the new releases didn’t always fit my budget. But, thankfully, there were plenty of cheap, used records, too.

Hill & Dale Records
This Georgetown store, which opened in February, is tucked away in a courtyard by the canal, and I was overwhelmed by the collection of records once I went inside.

Media Credit: Jamie Finkelstein | Hatchet Staff Photographer
David and Erica Lambert browse at Hill & Dale Records. Stores throughout the District participated in Record Store Day, an annual event that promotes the release of special edition vinyl records by artists.

Though the line was out the door, the store itself wasn’t too crowded thanks to high ceilings and minimalist decorations. Records and black-and-white photographs lined the walls of the two rooms.

Hill & Dale doesn’t sell used records, but owner Rob Norton said the store might offer them in the future. The records were somewhat out of my price range, with most between $20 and $50.

Norton said the boxed set of poetic alternative-rock band Cake was his best-seller so far that day, but he expected more people to come later in the afternoon to look at a new shipment once it was processed.

I would go back, if not for the new records, then definitely for the store’s listening parties. Norton said he also hopes to bring in bands to play “Tiny Desk-style” acoustic shows, referring to NPR’s popular concert series.

Smash! Records
After waiting in line outside for about 10 minutes by this Adams Morgan shop – they were only letting a few people in at a time to prevent overcrowding – I stepped down into a darkness full of used records, T-shirts and vintage clothing.

It was at Smash! that I made my best find of the day: a used copy of the Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers,” complete with the zipper on the front of the album cover. For only $8.99, this was exactly what I had come out for – good records that wouldn’t leave me broke. (Though a $75.99 Flaming Lips boxed set was enticing.)

The shop’s Record Store Day collection was smaller than Hill & Dale’s, but they had some solid ones in stock when I got there a few hours after they opened. “The Wizard of Oz” soundtrack, newly released on a limited edition green vinyl, was only $21.99, on the cheaper end of some of the other Record Store Day boxed sets and reissues.

Crooked Beat Records
Just a few blocks down 18th Street from Smash!, I ducked through the doorway and was greeted by an army of men behind the counter, frantically sifting through their new Record Store Day boxes looking for customer requests.

Crooked Beat has a more established vibe than Smash! or Hill & Dale, and the sense of camaraderie between the employees and the customers made it seem like everyone was a return buyer.

I went straight for the used records again, but, at 2 p.m., most of them were already picked over by the earlier crowd. Thinking it couldn’t hurt to look through their newer releases, I waited to move through the line with everyone else, stopping to sift through each letter of the alphabet.

A live double-LP Nirvana album of their 1992 performance in Melbourne was calling my name until I saw its $29.99 price tag. Crooked Beat also stocked newer releases like The xx’s “Coexist” for $17.99, which was a bit more in my range.

With a solid selection of 7-inch records as well, including The Killers’ “Human” for only $5.99 and the Carpenters’ “Top Of The World” for $2.99, Crooked Beat’s pricier new albums were well-balanced with the affordable oldies.

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