Have you ever spent hours thumbing through LPs, CDs, or cassette tapes in your local record store?

April 16th is Record Store Day. An event that celebrates the culture that has grown up around record stores in the US and internationally.

At a time when record stores are struggling and going out of business, Record Store Day reminds us of why record stores still matter.

When I was in high school, I used to hang out at a used record and book store in Santa Cruz, pouring over CDs and Vinyl, trying to buy as many albums as I could with the only 20 bux I had to my name.

Often, I would run into friends and we’d share discoveries and laugh at the ridiculous album covers we found. Going record shopping was an activity that didn’t usually require buying anything. It was about going somewhere and learning and talking about music.

Strangely, it was also about bringing your stack of albums to the counter and hoping that the clerk with the horned-rim glasses and encyclopedic grasp of recorded music, wouldn’t sneer at your selection.

Back when I was doing my best to drop out of college,  listening to records was a group activity (which also  included the mass consumption of malted beverages). We’d actually gather round the stereo and share our recent discoveries late into the night.

Sadly,  the times, they are a. . . (well, you know the rest).

Let’s raise our glasses (or beer cans) to all the independent record stores that helped create community and a passion for music in so many of us.

Check to see what your local record store is doing to celebrate the occasion on the Record Store Day website.

Share your experiences with record stores in the comments below.

Chris Bolton