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Now in our tenth calendar year!
PCR #463  (Vol. 10, No. 5) This edition is for the week of February 2--8, 2009.

"He's Just Not That Into You"  by Mike Smith
2008 Was A Year to Forget, But--December was a Month to Remember! Part 2  by William Moriaty
A Look Back in Wax  by ED Tucker
Byron Leftwich Has A Ring, How ‘bout You? .... The New Greatest Game Ever Played? .... Super Commercials? .... Can’t We All Just Get A Bong? .... Texans Violate Agreement .... Other Notes by Chris Munger
Bonggate .... Sponsor Loss .... Suspended .... Hang In There Dude  by Matt Drinnenberg
Good Job Honey! .... What's In A Name .... Roy .... Passing On .... My Favorite Films, Part 2  by Mike Smith
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CF Presents Retrorama

A Look Back in Wax

Every so often, National Geographic runs an article on a scientist or research group that has discovered a species of plant or animal in some remote rain forest that was thought to be extinct for many years. I had a similar type of experience this past weekend when I saw an advertisement for something claiming to be a “record show” at a local hotel. This was a creature that I had previously considered to be one of the early fatalities of online auctions. During the mass collecting shift of the late 90’s, the record show suffered even worse than some of its contemporaries since the media format was already outdated by the time the concept of in person sales began to fall out of popularity.

Many years ago, even prior to the advent of compact disc technology in the late 80’s, record shows were a plentiful sight. It seems back then that “mega” collectibles conventions were intentionally passed over in of favor smaller, more specialized, events. The most popular of these were comic book and record shows, which were not much more than air conditioned swap meets usually held in some hotel or the meeting hall of a local social organization. I conveniently discovered these events in the late 70’s, not too long after I became a fan of musical groups from the 60’s like The Beatles and The Monkees. These shows were Godsends to someone who lived in a town devoid of used record stores and limited to flea markets and garage sales for record albums that were out of print.

One of my favorite shows and one which seemed to hold on the longest, was held semi-annually at a Holiday Inn on the outskirts of Orlando. The show probably never had more than 50-60 dealers at any one time but the merchandise turned over regularly and there were always new treasures to be unearthed. I spent many a Saturday afternoon eagerly rummaging through moldy cardboard boxes filled to capacity with antique vinyl to feed my music habit. These were great times when haggling for a good deal was almost as important as finding the item and the art of conversation was practiced on subjects like grading scales, rarity and value calculations. When compact discs were in their infancy, it was difficult to find them used and many albums and compilations were only available on hard to find (and costly) imports. These items fit seamlessly with the LPs, 45s, EPs, 8 tracks, and cassette tapes already in plentiful supply at these shows and helped expand their clientele to a new bread of collectors.

In the 90’s, gigantic, one-stop collectibles shows serving a wide variety of tastes began to come into favor. The smaller specialized shows were quickly absorbed until only a die hard few still held out. The record shows had already seen a dramatic shift in merchandise from vinyl to compact disc with the newly established format quickly overtaking the old one. This division of customers made these shows especially susceptible to the rising conglomerate format and almost overnight it seemed like they were gone.

As the 90’s came to a close, it looked like collectible shows as a whole were doomed by the rise of online sales. Almost everyone had a computer and thanks to the web there was now a collectibles show going on 24/7 in every home in the country. For a vintage collector like me, who had already gathered up most of the items he was looking for, the online sales offered an unbelievable opportunity to fill in the gaps in a relatively short period of time.

It came as no small surprise, almost a decade after their presumed demise, to see an ad for a local record show. I passed the information on to a few friends but warned them that I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately, while the event was small, it was indeed a true record show. Had it not been for a few compact discs on display, I would have honestly thought I had been transported back to the mid-80’s before such technology was common place.

As I entered the small conference room and paid the paltry $3.00 admission, I was immediately assaulted by the smell of ancient cardboard. The room was completely lined and filled down the center with tables of used vinyl. There was very little room to move. Just like in the old days, I started on one side and methodically began flipping through box after box of albums, occasionally waiting my turn or conversing with the dealer about what I collected. Perhaps I am out of practice, but it certainly seemed like I went through a lot records regardless of the room size.

Nothing talked me out of my money that day but I did have a few near misses. One dealer had a Russian copy of the Beatles' Rubber Soul album with some cool graphics and another had a promotional copy of their Movie Medley single with an interview on the flip side. I found a copy of the original Monkees greatest hits album, Refocus on the Bell label, but the price was a little steep for what would have been a duplicate in my collection. I even ran across a soundtrack for the Laugh-In television series that almost went home with me just for the psychedelic packaging.

After some dedicated digging, I spoke with Roland Parker of Vinyl Frontier who was responsible for this retro record revival. He said he has done a few other shows but this was his best in terms of the number of table sales. He has found that more and more dealers are becoming disheartened with eBay and the pitfalls of online selling. Returning to the shows allows them to interact, face to face, with their customers and it gives the buyer an opportunity to thoroughly inspect the merchandise prior to making a purchasing decision (wow, what a concept). He is seeing an increase in attendance and has hopes of expanding the show to a two day event complete with classic rock performances.

My fingers are crossed that this show will continue to prosper and may even mark the beginning of the return of similar events. In addition to the nostalgia fix, I made some good contacts for future ventures and realized I should probably look into increasing my homeowners insurance again to compensate for what some of these albums are priced at. This was a blast from the past that I hope will last!

"Retrorama" is ©2009 by ED Tucker.   All graphics this page, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.