Record Store Day is massively important to the existence of Exile on Main Street in Downtown Champaign, arguably, the most important day of the year for the health of the store. They are looking for your help this year, as the up front cost of Record Store Day releases has put them in a bit of a bind.
They've launched a GoFundMe to help them get this thing off the ground this year — RSD falls on April 21st. Their goal is $8,000, and your donation isn't just a donation, it is store credit, which is even more incentive to throw a few bucks their way if you can spare it.
It is hard to believe I posted this video of Exile three years ago, but it is worth the watch.
Here's the text from the GoFundMe page:
Record Store Day is our favorite day of the year. We imagine it's the same for many indie stores that are still fighting the fight in 2018. It has its challenges with the planning and the massive amount of ordering and hoping we get what you all want, but seeing so many faces--familiar and unfamiliar--come through and support the store is generally overwhelming.
This year we hope is no different. Mike has been cooking up a lineup of bands and artists that might be our best yet. We're in contact with food vendors and makers and artists to try to make your experience here fantastic. But it's possible we won't have Record Store Day product.
We operate at a loss a lot of the time. It's the nature of the indie record store these days, especially those not in big cities. We have wonderful regulars that we hope we see often, but foot traffic isn't always a thing and we spend more time pointing people in the direction of Black Dog or Maize than we do high-fiving amazing new customers. It's just how it goes. But usually we're able to use Record Store Day to help us get caught up on things we haven't been able to manage as well throughout the year. (We could talk all day about the nature of RSD and how dependent stores are on it and how much it can suck for small stores who want to satisfy their customers but can't afford to stock every release, but we'll leave that for another time.) This year, our distributor isn't such a fan of that plan, and in order for us to have the product we want to put in your hands on RSD, we have to get everything paid up ahead of time. That's $8k.
Yes, it feels supremely awkward to be asking for so much money, mostly from people who have spent money in our store at some point we're sure, and especially considering the multitude of GoFundMe pages set up for things like medical costs (yay America!) or memorial funds. It's not a position we enjoy being in, but at a certain point you get desperate enough where decorum takes a back seat.
BUT, considering the astronomical amount needed and how strange this whole thing is, Mike devised a bit of a different plan for how this would work. These aren't donations. They're loans. Whatever you kick in here is what you have waiting in store credit. (Yes, we'll take a hit on fees, but we take a hit on credit card fees every day, so we'll live.) You're basically pre-paying for your Record Store Day items or for other new/used records that you are buying down the line. We're crowd-floating our ability to have Record Store Day items. It's the only way we felt would make this feel less weird (to us for sure and hopefully to you, too). Being an independent record store is our passion. Stocking local albums and hosting local shows and being that place where you bought your first LP is all we want to do in the world. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we don't. We aren't sure how much longer this wave extends, but we do know that a Record Store Day without product is a pretty grim circumstance. If you have the ability to help us avoid that, we'll certainly be grateful.
A COUPLE OF CAVEATS:
1. This will be for Exile goods. Dandelion is a fully separate business and this whole thing is crazy enough without trying to sort out split tickets.
2. RSD has to remain fair to people who line up to get items, so please don't donate and then tell us you expect an item to be held. We get it, but we work really hard to make it fair (as all stores are supposed to) and that would put us in a really tough situation.
3. Out of town friends who want to chip in, if we can find something you want and ship it to you, we're about it. Or if someone just wants to kick in $5 or $10 as a donation with no plan to actually use the credit in that amount, hey, we'll take it.
NOTE: If you don't like loaning online, you can certainly do it in person. Then we don't lose any fee percentage and we're basically just holding your cash for you. (Told you this was weird.)
Alternately, just buying a bunch of gift certificates for friends, loved ones, enemies, or yourself is also a great way to help. Same principle, but in gift form!
If--BIG IF--we somehow eclipse this asinine total, it'll just mean more stock on the shelves. Any overage goes to the store's expenses. We ain't trying to pull any of it aside or take a cut. We just want to have stuff to sell people.
That was a lot of text. Sorry. It's hard to put into words not only the awkwardness we feel but also the gratitude we have for the people who have spent time in our store.
Truly, thank you.
-Jeff & Co.
Photo from Exile's Facebook page.