So a few recent trips back to Canada really hammered home for me the fact that, at least in the Niagara region, virtually all of the local record stores that I shopped at as a kid are gone. Not moved, but gone. Not just the independant stores like the late, great Poptones on Queen St. in Niagara Falls or the awesome, if snobby, Station To Station which was just off of St. Paul St. in St. Catharines but even most of the 'chain' stores like Sunrise and Sam The Record Man are gone. Sam's hurt a lot, as when Alison and I went to Toronto, the big building with the neon spinning records was still there but it was empty, gutted, and the neon had long since stopped brightening up the Young St. strip.
NYC's still got some indy stores in the East Village and the two Virgin Megastores, but rumors abound that the Virgin locations will be closing up shop this year and who knows how long the indy joints will last, what with the Village becoming a playground for the rich much like the rest of Manhattan.
While hanging out with my friend Mark in Canada, I'd hoped to find the new Hanson Brothers. In fact, I took Alison all over Toronto looking for it prior. Neither trip did the trick, I wound up having to get it online. And that's fine, I got it for half of what I would have paid for it at a brick and mortar store, but it really does take a lot of the fun out of it.
Music junkies know that half the enjoyment comes from the thrill of the hunt or from finding who-knows-what in a used bin in some dingy, stinky dirty store. Online is too easy. I held off on buying that record online until I was sure I wasn't going to find it locally. I had fun looking for it and picked up some other odd titles while zipping around Southwestern Ontario, Toronto, Hamilton, and NYC in search of the disc. But it's sad that I never actually found it, and instead, found that so many record stores were just gone. Living in Portland, I was sheltered from that. That city was, at least when I moved away last year, a veritble MECCA for record shopping - but that city is the exception and not the rule.