A light murk cast on about a 30-person queue along Hear Again Records Saturday morning as the shop braced for the first Record Store Day event of the year.
What was once a yearly April promise to vinyl collectors has diverged into a three-time crawl as Record Store Day has been split into the alternative Record Store Day Drops to increase safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Having started Aug. 29 and set to be continued Sept. 26 and Oct. 24, Record Store Day Drops allowed Gainesville melophiles to see the color of exclusive wax that unearths for typically one day only.
Downtown Gainesville's Hear Again Records opened in 1994 and current owner Andrew Schaer took over in 2006 before moving the location downtown in 2009. Around the same time, Record Store Day began its grasp on both new-found and long-time vinyl listeners worldwide looking for a day of recognition toward the medium. Experiencing a phoenix rebirth in terms of sales and cultural relevance (18.8 million LPs were sold in 2019 according to Nielsen), Schaer said he has noted the upward trend for Record Store Day's popularity.
"I started messing around with the whole Record Store Day I think around 2010,” he said. “It started kind of small, it was a new ground for me. But it progressively got bigger and bigger. The list got bigger and bigger. The event itself was drawing more and more people. This year’s list was an absolute mammoth.”
Schaer reopened Hear Again Records June 1 under new safety precautions, such as temperature checks and plastic gloves to wear while browsing, after temporarily closing previously. These rules carried over Saturday as people lined the corner in their masks and six feet apart, undeterred by the “new normal,” waiting to shop Hear Again’s selection of the more than 200 albums, singles and other formats released in limited quantities for Record Store Day.
“Everybody who came in was really great,” he said. “With the precautions I have in here, a lot of people feel more comfortable coming in here than they do going to Publix. I’ve created a bit of a safe space, and they’ve been showing their appreciation and their support.”
Schaer said the local Gainesville music scene has helped keep the store alive through the pandemic even through months of closures and restricted access.
Dalton Ringey, a 28-year-old UF doctoral student and graduate teaching assistant, arrived at 2 a.m. to guarantee a first-in-line spot. He bided his time in anticipation for a select few records including rapper Denzel Curry’s rendition of “Bulls on Parade” and a live 12-inch by Brittany Howard.
“Music means so much to me,” Ringey said. “Collecting records, having something physical, getting to meet all these people and to have to this day, it means the world.”