The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

WEEKENDER / Entertainment

April 18, 2014

B-Side Music in Ashtabula is ready for Record Store Day

ASHTABULA — Record Store Day 2014 is Saturday and Ashtabula’s B-Side Music is ready for it. The day long event celebrates independent record stores around the world and provides vinyl and CD collectors with an opportunity to find rare releases and re-releases.

B-Side Music is Ashtabula’s only true ‘indie’ record store. There are Erie and Mentor stores involved in the annual event, but locals needn’t drive there to find what they’re looking for. B-Side Music draws record collectors from around the country, especially on Record Store Day.

“We’re constantly trying to get the word out about independent record stores,” B-Side owner Andy Oxley said. “Referrals are the most important way to do this, so I cater my collection to customers.”

Record Store Day began in 2007 when independent record stores and collectors got together to revitalize their businesses. Chain stores had taken much of the independent stores’ sales volume, but there was a growing interest in collectible vinyl records and hard-to-find CD releases throughout the world. The first Record Store Day was celebrated at more than 1,000 stores across the country. That number has grown exponentially since then. Hundreds of recording artists now participate in Record Store Day, with special appearances, the issuance of special vinyl and CD releases and limited number re-releases.

“We’ll be open on Saturday at 9 a.m. so people can spend a whole day browsing for collectibles,” Oxley said. “We’re having pizza and refreshments and making it a real celebration.”

Oxley said B-Side Music is featuring limited presses, colored vinyl, exclusive releases and other collectibles. Like other independent record stores, B-Side Music focuses on vinyl records as well as CD releases. He said B-Side Music has added new vinyl, new releases and reissues of classic albums since last Record Store Day. He also gets around 10 new releases per week.

“An independent record store is vastly different from a big chain store,” he said. “We are customer oriented and help customers find what they want. We search with them and order it for free if it’s not available, unlike a chain store.”

Oxley said he orders music for customers often more than three times per week and the orders are promptly received. B-Side gets delivery of around two CDs and DVDs per week. He said his store caters to people who are interested in music and music culture and does its best to satisfy them. He believes in owning records rather than downloading music.

“Our collection is in a physical format,” he said. “It’s a format that is time-honored for the last one hundred years. You actually own something you can hold in your hands. It’s better not only for collectors, but it supports artists, labels and stores. And records and CDs sound much better than downloads.”

Oxley said interest in vinyl records has increased to the point where he may soon have turntables if local desire for them continues.

“The growth of interest in vinyl has made record sales soar over the last few years,” he said. “Between 2012 and 2013, LP sales grew by 32 percent. Vinyl sales have grown six fold in the last seven years since Record Day appeared on the scene. Record Store Day is the biggest event in record store industry for good reason.”

Oxley said he gets people from states away to visit his store and hunt for collectibles.

“I have core customers from the local area,” he said. “But I get people from as far away as Maryland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and all parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio. They look forward to Record Store Day to build their collections.”

Oxley deals with a variety of customers with individual tastes, so he stocks his shelves eclectically to help them define their collections.

“They’re all looking for something different, but all share the same love of music,” he said. “We understand their passion and work with them to find what they’re looking for.”

B-Side Music is located at 4117 Main Avenue in Ashtabula.

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