CoMo record stores keep vinyl alive

Slackers, Vinyl Renaissance and Hitt Records offer their own take on new and used tunes.

In honor of Record Store Day 2015 on Saturday April 18, meander around downtown to find deals on old favorites and current hits.

Slackers Located on E. Broadway is Slackers, a chain record store that calls Columbia home. MU graduate Kurt Jellinek opened the shop in 1993. Since then, it has expanded to Jefferson City as well as eight locations in the St. Louis area.

Store manager Ted Sharp describes Slackers as “a one-stop ‘everything store’ for entertainment media and nerdy things.”

The store offers a variety of records, both new and used.

“We carry everything from modern radio pop to underground punk, metal, electronic and indie rock,” Sharp says.

However, what makes the store unique is its trade-in program.

“We are the only place in town where you can trade vinyl records for video games/CDs/movies, and vice versa,” Sharp says.

Slackers will be joining in Record Store Day festivities with exclusive releases, 50 percent off all T-shirts, buy-two-get-one-free on pre-owned CDs, free pizza and live music from bands like Jack Grelle, Graham Kennedy and Kovusari.

Vinyl Renaissance CoMo welcomed a new record store, Vinyl Renaissance, on Nov. 1. The store has two other locations in Kansas City, Missouri, and Overland Park, Kansas. With the help of manager Nich Soha, previous manager of Streetside Records, the store chose Tenth St. in downtown CoMo as its third location.

Employee Jeremy Hunsaker, who is in charge of the store’s social media, describes the shop as “a full-service audio and visual entertainment store.”

Hunsaker says that it has everything you need for both digital and vinyl music.

The store has a broad music selection spanning multiple genres and formats.

“We specialize in everything,” Hunsaker says. “We have used records that are in fantastic condition. We have new releases from as recently as this past week. We want to hit all budgets and all aspects from college students who may only be able to spend $17 to someone a little older who can spend around $50. We try to accommodate any and all anyone in between.”

The store is excited to participate in upcoming Record Store Day.

“We want to have as many Record Store Day titles as we possibly can,” Hunsaker says.

The store will also have performances from Ruth Acuff and William Elliott Whitmore.

Hitt Records

Located on Hitt St. is the aptly named Hitt Records. Taylor Bacon and Kyle Cook opened the store in September of 2012 after seeing a lack of quality record shops in the area.

One of the first things that sticks out about this store is its hours, or lack thereof. The store is open Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Friday evenings, Cook says.

“Our short hours are intentional,” he says. “It's important to have a great selection of music for a town as diverse as Columbia, but it's never been in our opinion that we needed to be open every day. It's not like it's a pharmacy, even though some people may feel that way. It gives folks a chance to pause and actually listen to their finds, and gives us a chance to take a break and not burn out. We don't technically do this for a living. That is probably what makes our business most unique — the lack of high-profit motive and a nearly non-existent payroll.”

Despite only being open four days a week, Hitt Records is holding its own against fellow record shops.

“Columbia seems to have a healthy record supply again, but we still strive to carry unique and ‘fringe’ genres like experimental, electronic, ambient, drone, underground rap, rock and folk, world music, etc.,” Cook says. “We try to cover every base we can think of.”

The store has a unique vibe, with a “Free box” and a “Wall of Fame” featuring funny album covers.

Cook describes it as “a small and unique attic full of quality & intriguing records.”

The store will celebrate Record Store Day with nearly 100 special releases, free local food, store-wide sales, live music on the roof and a Punt, Pass & Kick competition.

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