Sunday, July 6, 2008
Off the Record
I've been visiting friends in Yakima, WA this weekend, which usually entails a trip to their local independent record store, Off The Record. The last time I visited Yakima, around 18 months ago, I was astounded that this store was still in business, and was even more astounded this time.
Music retailers have been dropping like flies in the download era, and the only survivors have been stores like Amoeba with huge selections and high volume sales. Stores like Off The Record (a tiny little store in a strip mall in Central Washington) should not be able to survive, and yet they do, and seem to be doing pretty well.
The times I've visited Off The Record, I can usually find some lost chestnut in their dollar bin. Yesterday it was Bourgeois Tagg's Yoyo CD, which has been out of print for more than 20 years, almost since it was released! Finding a disc that goes for $15-20 on eBay in a dollar bin is a thrill that can't be duplicated on the web. Hopefully the store will still be in business the next time I visit Yakima, whenever that may be.
Another reason to visit central Washington is their wine region, which is like visiting California's wine country 25 years ago. There are a ton of micro-wineries in the Yakima and Columbia valleys with friendly staff and free wine tasting, and affordable prices on top of the line stuff. Washington's wine region is growing so fast that it's going to be as touristy and commercialized as Napa Valley in about 5-10 years, so it makes me feel like Lewis and Clark, enjoying something just before it gets discovered by the rest of the world.