For audiophiles everywhere, Record Store Day has become a national holiday. The event was created in 2007 by independent record store owners. It was a way to raise awareness and boost business for local record stores everywhere. Today, there are indie record stores participating in Record Store Day on every continent except Antarctica. For vinyl fans everywhere, Record Store Day means special releases, live performances, and intense album browsing.
Popularity for the event has snowballed in South Florida over the last few years. This year, it falls on Saturday, April 18, and few places will be taking this year’s festivities as seriously as Fort Lauderdale’s Radio-Active Records. “Last year we had a thousand people come. The line to get in the store went from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m.” Radio-Active co-owner Mikey Ramirez told New Times. “I took notes of what worked last year to make this year even better.”
Ramirez plans to divide the store into two parts. One section of the store will be devoted to exclusives distributed especially for Record Store Day. The other side will showcase “the best of the best records," Ramirez says. "Since January I’ve been stockpiling clean, quality collections. I bought a collection from the cousin of Jackie McLean who played on Blue Note records. I bought off him 3,500 records of high quality stuff that had barely been played to go along with the 4,000 other records I’ve gotten.”
Ramirez has spent the last 15 years since he opened Radio-Active Records buying and selling records. They moved to their current location at 845 N. Federal Highway back in 2010 and have managed to prosper in spite of digital music platforms like Pandora and Spotify. The revival of records might seem to some as unlikely as telegraphs and rotary phones coming back in style, but Ramirez sees vinyl’s resuscitation in a different light. “Records never went away. People went away from records. I’ve been buying records since I was a five-year-old kid in New Orleans. Younger kids today say if they’re going to spend money on music, they want something tangible with great cover art that you can hold. Then there’s people who are into collecting who want something with rare frequency.”
To keep the die-hard vinyl fans stoked, Radio-Active Records will be going all-out on Saturday. The doors open at 8 a.m., but those waiting in line will be hydrated with free water and Red Bull. There will also be food trucks and vendors in attendance. “People in line didn’t complain last year because they understood if we pass capacity you have no room to move around and search.” Once they get inside they will hear DJs like Miss Tess & The Talkbacks, Alex Caso, and Benton spinning tunes. But Ramirez’s biggest focus for Record Store Day is on the, well, records. “People come because they want to buy records. We’ll have a ton of giveaways, but if we had live music that would be a distraction for a lot of people coming.”
The store will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., but if you want continue the festivities, you can drive South to Miami, where Gramps will be hosting the official after party. Ramirez is expecting a full house, and he has every right to. Radio-Active has built a fiercely loyal customer base in its lifespan. “People understand if you shop at an independent store their money will go back to the store. It supports the artists too.”
Even though Ramirez has a business to run, at the end of the day, it's all about his passion for records. After all, he used to be that five-year-old kid thumbing through vinyl, searching for hidden gems. So as he has picked up inventory, one might assume it must be hard for him to let some of the albums go. Ramirez says that ain’t the case. “I have 10,000 records in my house. I’m going to get rid of half of them because I don’t have the time to listen to them. Better they can get in the homes of someone who does.”
And if last year's turnout is any implication, a bunch of people will be giving a lot of records some new homes this Saturday.
Record Store Day at Radio-Active Records. 8 a.m. To 10 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at 845 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Entry is free. Call 954-762-9488 or visit radio-active-records.tumblr.com.