Record Store Day is one of the most important events of the year for the UK’s independent music shops.
Originally established in 2008, it aims to celebrate the unique culture of record shops and the occasion is marked with a number of limited edition vinyl releases.
One of Manchester’s best-known participating stores is the Northern Quarter’s Piccadilly Records.
CC / Flickr / Marc Wathieu
It’ll be hard to miss the queue of dedicated fans snaking around the block – some of whom will have been lining throughout the night to get their hands on the ultra-rare releases.
At the centre of it all are the 14 staff at Piccadilly Records, led by shop manager Patrick Ryder. Doors open at 8am, by which time there’s already a significant queue.
“Last year, the first person started queuing at 12.30pm on Friday afternoon and the queue is always at the end of the road by 11pm,” says Patrick.
The team will then work right through until closing at 6pm. Members of staff walk down the line once handing out lists of the releases, letting people know what’s already gone and taking the orders of those near the front to keep the queue moving.
Patrick says the queue generally starts to calm down about 3pm and that ‘all hope’s not lost’ if you start queuing once the doors are open.
Piccadilly Records gets deliveries every day Monday to Friday, so the releases start to arrive in the days before and are kept in the back ahead of the big day.
“We don’t really know how much of each release we’re going to get until it’s in – and some that we’re expecting sometimes don’t arrive on time
“There are a few releases that we only get 10-15 copies of, but the rest we’ll get dozens of. If it’s a band we’ve done well with throughout the year – we’ll ask for more because we’ve supported them.”
It’s hard to predict which will be the most popular releases as the selection is so diverse. Each year, there’s one more novelty-style release including the likes of The Moomins and Ghostbusters in recent years.
This year, it’s the debut vinyl release from Steve Coogan’s alter-ego Alan Partridge – which Patrick expects to be popular.
Others that are expected to be big sellers are releases from David Bowie and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
Although some of the releases will sell out within the first hour, many will still be available throughout the following days. If any are left by the following Saturday, they’re added to Piccadilly Records’ web store.
Patrick believes what makes Record Store Day special, is the passion and excitement behind it.
“The amount of people who are excited is amazing.
“Generally, everyone who queues gets at least one thing they want. Everyone is in good spirits, it’s like a festival atmosphere – especially if the weather is good!”
But it’s not just about selling records on the day itself. Piccadilly Records will provide a variety of entertainment to keep punters occupied while waiting in line.
This includes DJs such as BBC 6 Music’s Mary-Anne Hobbs playing live sets and David Bowie face-painting.
A book celebrating the history of Piccadilly Records will also be on sale, and after the doors close the team will be heading to the Deaf Institute for an after-party with a trio of DJs from the store.
Patrick has also seen it from both sides as, before he worked at the store, he was involved in the queue.
“It’s a great atmosphere and a lot of fun – very celebratory. A lot of people bring tents or wrap themselves in sleeping bags – or some even go out the night before and join the queue afterwards.”
Many of those who get involved are the store’s regular customers and Patrick is keen to point out that, unlike other areas of retail, record stores have more of a community focus.
“We have a symbiotic relationship with our customers which is based on mutual recommendations.”
However, those who might not visit on a regular basis are more than welcome to get involved.
“It’s the one day a year that’s not about scoffing at one people’s tastes”
Record Store Day will be taking place across the UK on March 16
Piccadilly Records, 53 Oldham Street, M1 1JR / piccadillyrecords.com
Main image: Kaleigh Watterson