MUNCIE, Ind. — After five months of online-only sales, Village Green Records hosted the first of three rescheduled Record Store Day events outdoors on Aug. 29.
After five months of restricted service students and many locals attended the August sale and were excited to see Village Green back as well as support it. Greer Decker, a junior art education major, has been coming to the store for a while and saw the ad for the outdoor sale online.
“Travis is a really welcoming guy,” said Decker. “If you came in he would play things straight off the shelf for you before you bought it.”
There have been many unexpected hurdles and changes to the typical in-person experience that have happened since late spring. After closing their doors to in-store sales on March 15, Village Green Records has had to adapt to conducting business online and dealing with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s definitely been a roller coaster of emotions,” said Travis Harvey, owner and operator of Village Green. “I feel things getting tighter around my throat; especially as the months go on.”
Along with having to furlough his staff and suspend the trade-in of used vinyls, Harvey opened a monthly subscription service through Patreon emphasizing the elements you would typically get in the store.
“I’ve always tried to be not too prevalent on the internet cause I have always wanted to help support the browser, the digger, the people that choose to go to a record store,” said Harvey. “This program has really been a great way to further emphasize that and also to build that close relationship with customers even if they could be thousands of miles away.”
Even with around 90 members already signed up though, Village Green’s sales are already down 60% and most of their promotion is being done through social media.
“This has been really helpful and successful in its own way, but it’s still only about equal to two really good Saturdays in sales,” said Harvey. “Nonetheless, it still doesn’t quite cut it.”
Village Green is not alone when it comes to feeling the strain of conducting operations without a physical presence. According to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll conducted in July tracking the impact coronavirus has had on small businesses, 12% are still temporarily closed and 34% percent are partially open.
The closure of Village Green and the loss of business is still fresh on some locals minds. Bob O’Bannon, a Ball State alumnus and Muncie resident, likes to keep in touch with how the store is doing and makes it a point to come and keep them in business.
“Independent record sellers are an important and valuable service in my opinion,” said O’Bannon. “In a time like this it’s important to shop local as much as possible.”
As for the future Record Store Day sales, Harvey hopes that customers that have been clamoring to return to the store take the opportunity to do so.
“Even if they are not particularly interested in record store items or exclusives,” said Harvey, “I hope they come out for the experience...it's been three, four, five months now that they haven’t been able to browse in my store, so for all the people out there really bothered by that, this is their opportunity to come out.”
Record Store Day is meant as a collective celebration of record store culture and promotes independently owned stores in the US and internationally. After being originally postponed to June 20, organizers scheduled additional events for Sept. 26 and Oct. 24. Village Green also plans on publishing a website sometime in the next few weeks.
Photos by Adele Reich
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