Call me a dinosaur but I still buy cds. I dig them. I like having physical copies of music in my hand. Don’t get me wrong; I get stuff digitally too. But if given a choice between buying an album, single or EP on itunes or on a cd, I’m opting for a cd.
And during my time in Baltimore I fell in love with The Sound Garden. It’s my Mecca. It’s my idea of Heaven. It’s easily one of my favorite places to spend money and it’s not uncommon for me to drop two bills in an afternoon.
No joke; I went to The Sound Garden on 9/11. On the 9/11. That’s how much I enjoy going there.
But something happened on my last trip to Baltimore that may have changed everything.
Let me explain how my Sound Garden ritual usually went.
First thing I’d do when I walked into the store is to drop off my bag. Then I’d usually peruse the shelves directly opposite the counter to see if anything jumped out at me. From there I’d hit up the new releases, because nine times out of ten I’m there for a new release, and that’s the first thing I pick up.
At this point I’ll look at my phone and see what else has come out recently that I might want to pick up, so I’ll seek out specific artists. Sometimes if there’s a soundtrack I’m looking for I’ll look for it.
And naturally I started in the used section. I start in “A” and make my way down to “B.” Sometimes I’ll see an album or artist that I’d always been interested in, but never gotten around to picking up. Since it’s used, I grab it.
Sometimes the album I grab is by an artist or group that I’ve seen on a late night talk show. Seeing their name reminds me “oh, that’s right I was supposed to give them a shot.” And now I can. Sometimes I’ll find an entire back catalogue of a group that I’ve been waiting to get up on and it’s like striking gold.
Of course there are other times when I see the entire back catalogue of an artist that I really love. And that’s the double-edged sword. On one hand, it sucks that someone got rid of those albums that I think are great. But on the other hand it means that someone else is going to get the chance to discover those albums.
I could probably fill an entire page of albums that I “discovered” in the used section, but here are some artists that I was introduced to via finding them in the used section; Anathallo, Calexico, Cake, Best Coast, Beach House, Ben Kweller, The Black Keys, Booker T. & The MG’s, Chocolate Genius, Damien Rice, The Cure, Elliott Smith, A Fine Frenzy, Jimmy Eat World, The Killers, Kings of Leon, M. Ward, MF Doom, Madlib, Neko Case, Ray LaMontagne, Rilo Kiley and St. Vincent.
In fact the only time I’d ever break while scouring the used section was to check out the used tv shows on dvd, which used to be opposite “J” and “K” in used cds.
I say “used to be” because The Sound Garden did some reorganizing recently. Not only have they moved the used tv shows next to the new tv shows (a move I’m totally fine with) but they consolidated used and new cds (a move I’m way less fine with.) So now when you look for Wye Oak cds, you’ll find new and used mixed in together.
I don’t know why they did it. I’m guessing they did it to maximize space and labor. Y’see back in the day, while they were ringing you up they’d let you know if they had a used copy of a cd you were going buy. Then they’d have someone grab it for you. Now you can just find it for yourself.
I’ve encountered this type of organization scheme before. I’ve seen it at Big B’s, a defunct record store in Las Vegas. That’s also the way my hometown record store Zia Records does it.
By having a separate used section, The Sound Garden really separated themselves from the pack. That was one of the reasons I loved shopping there so much because for me, the used section meant discovery. And it also meant I’d most likely be spending more money because I’d be doing more shopping.
On the plus side I’ll be saving more money. On the minus side I’ll be discovering less.
I’m still going to make my trips to The Sound Garden and I’m still going to spend my money there, probably just not as much. I’ll still enjoy shopping there and I’ll still have my memories of how awesome things used to be. But I won't be working my way from A to Z.