This is the kind of store I hope can survive a long time, it is also the kind of store that has me questioning my record collecting philosophy. I started buying records because it was the cheapest way to listen to and learn new music, over the years my interest has switched to amassing a tangible representation of my musical tastes. It is now much cheaper to download the .MP3 than to buy the LP, but still at the core of my collecting habit is finding a deal, or at the very least is not overpaying for records. It can be very difficult to archive, the market is continuously fluctuating and sometimes my interests in the music overpowers my thriftiness.
Another core principle I try to honor is supporting independent music stores. I like them, I want to see them around the next time I’m in town or looking to buy a record, with that said, and as much as I hate to admit it, eBay and Discogs set the market. I don’t buy a lot of records online, but I don’t want to grossly overpay just because something is in my hands. I understand the brick and mortar shop incurs additional expenses to order to stay afloat, but they need to find the middle ground between the international market and their balance sheet.
The biggest knock against Rock & Roll Heaven I have, is it is grossly overpriced across the board. I could not find a deal I was willing to pull the trigger on in the shop. I went in expecting to spend $60-$100, but walked out empty handed. Some record stores I visit are overpriced in some areas (new, used, collectible), or with particular artists (Beatles, Bowie, Love, Clash) or genres (Psych, Reggae, Soul), I get it – that is were they can make their money, but there usually is an opportunity to find something of value if you look close enough. Often the recent arrivals bin is a good source for a deal, I could not find a recent bin at Rock & Roll Heaven. I find some record stores start to resemble museums, they have a tremendous selection of music, often including artists and albums which are generally absent or empty in most stores. The high prices help to maintain the level of inventory, preventing the most popular LPs from leaving the store. Rock & Roll Heaven is close to museum status. I’m sure they sell their fair share of new releases and find some collectors to pick up rare LPs. Here is an example of a record I would have liked to purchase, but the price difference was too high – R&R Heaven had two copies of Dennis Brown’s Wolves and Leopards, one was $50 the other was $60. A quick eBay search revealed a copy with zero bids at $7.99 and three between $14.99 – $17.99 buy it now, all original releases. At $25 the record is sold to me at R&R Heaven, but I could not justify the tremendous difference in price. Most records which were not “commons” were priced between $20 – $35. It could also be the case that Orlando has a very committed and aggressive vinyl community, in that case – more power to Rock & Roll Haven and Rock On!
It took me 1.5 hours each way to get to the shop using the bus, but on the bright side I found a few Anole’s at the bus stop.