How to celebrate Record Store Day in Wichita

Support your local record store this Saturday: snag an exclusive release, dig through crates, and find your next great listen.

How to celebrate Record Store Day in Wichita
The Record Ship is one of two shops in Wichita participating in Record Store Day, what one local owner calls "Christmas for record collectors." Photo by Joseph Purcell for the SHOUT.

Don’t be surprised if you see long lines of music enthusiasts camping outside Wichita record stores this weekend. Vinyl's biggest day of the year is Saturday, April 20.

“Record Store Day is like the Christmas for record collectors.” says Les Easterby, owner of The Record Ship. “You wake up early, excited to get up and see what you’re going to get.”

A collective of record store owners and employees invented the music holiday, which was first celebrated in 2008. Its key feature: exclusive releases that you won’t find online or in the superstore down the street.

“The fact that there is a push from artists to release exclusive titles that you can only get in person on Record Store Day is a really cool thing,” says Kirsten Phillips, co-owner of Spektrum Muzik. “There’s a huge push to keep brick and mortar record stores alive. Especially now that we’re seeing big box retailers like Target and Walmart coming back with vinyl, I think it’s more important to continue to celebrate and uplift independent stores.”

This year will be The Record Ship’s first official Record Store Day. Spektrum Muzik is celebrating the holiday for the twelfth time, but this year will be the first in its new location. Both shops had to apply to participate in the promotional effort, a process known as becoming a “pledged store.”

“They want to make sure you’re a real store, like real brick-and-mortar type of deal,” says Easterby. “And then you have to sign a pledge, which is basically saying that you won’t flip records, you won’t hold stuff back ... You can’t sell anything for more than what they say you could sell it for.”

The rules imposed by Record Store Day are intended to discourage “flippers” — who might sell a record for several times the original price on sites like eBay or Discogs — and to keep the event catered around vinyl enthusiasts and the in-store experience.

“Typically, if there’s a big release coming out, we can do presale. We can save copies. But Record Store Day is very strict,” says Phillips. “First come first serve, one per person, just because the titles can be so limited. It’s a ‘you have to be there’ kind of thing.”

Record Store Day covers a wide spectrum of tastes. Its yearly list is usually hundreds of releases long, ranging from popular artists and classics to smaller, independent artists and compilations.

“Everyone’s into a lot of different stuff. So when I see some of the stuff that people are requesting, sometimes it’s like reading like a foreign language, because yeah, there’s so much out there,” says Easterby.

Every year has its most sought-after releases. This year’s include a split 7-inch single with Noah Kahan and Olivia Rodrigo, a split 12-inch with David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Paramore, a David Bowie remastering from the Trident Studio tapes, and a Replacements live release recorded within a week of their infamous performance and subsequent ban from “Saturday Night Live.” Records from Daft Punk, The Rolling Stones, Bill Evans, De La Soul, Charles Mingus, and Sonic Youth are also among the 380 special releases this year.

Paramore, a pop-punk staple with a dynamic, often neon-haired frontwoman, will be the “celebrity ambassadors” for this year’s event. The band recently split from their major label and chose to go the independent route, making their partnership with Record Store Day particularly special.

“Paramore, I’m very excited about just because they are in that phase of independence in their career," says Phillps. “So the fact that they’re partnering with independent record stores for Record Store Day is so cool. We’re very hyped for that.”

Record Store Day started in the U.S., but it has since spread internationally and now includes regional releases to independent shops across the globe. Many releases are limited, so there’s no guarantee on the inventory a store will receive. Sometimes only one or two copies of a highly anticipated release might make it to a local store. Often, stores ask patrons to send in requests to gauge interest of which titles are most sought after in their area. Both The Record Ship and Spektrum Muzik have plans for several drops and giveaways throughout the day as well as hosting local businesses to bring in food, coffee, and other treats for the festivities. Both shops have also stocked up on new and used releases and deals for the event.

“Obviously there are the limited edition exclusives on Record Store Day, but (for us) a big thing is really bulking up other popular titles on that day,” says Phillips, “Just making sure that the store is as well-rounded as possible.”

Store owners are often the biggest enthusiasts of them all. Easterby hopes to snag this year’s Ladytron release, while Phillips, a DJ who hosts several local events including semimonthly dinner and record pairings at First Mile Kitchen, is most excited for this year’s Daft Punk and Air releases.

“They’ll be going in my DJ bag for sure.”

Record Store Day is a place where shoppers can all find common ground in a shared love of music, if not the same artist or genre. Creating and discovering spaces that cater to our hobbies and support our local brick-and-mortar stores can forge a sense of community that many people are hungry for.

“It’s one of the days of the year where a lot of different like-minded people and music lovers in general can come together and just have a good time and enjoy each other’s company,” says Easterby.

While there’s only one Record Store Day, the organization drops special releases and promotions throughout the year. In 2010, it added an annual Black Friday event to extend further support to independent, locally owned shops during the holiday season.

Keep an eye on the Facebook pages for The Record Ship and Spektrum Muzik for more Record Store Day details, release availability, and sneak peeks.

The Details

Record Store Day at Spektrum Muzik
8 a.m.-7 p.m. on April 20, 112 S. Handley St. in Wichita
New and used drops, merch, giveaways, and limited releases. Coffee and treats from Milkfloat, refreshments from White Crow Cider, and more TBA. Find more information on the Spektrum Muzik website and on Facebook.

Record Store Day at The Record Ship
7 a.m.-7 p.m. on April 20, 230 N. Cleveland in Wichita
Limited exclusive vinyl releases, gift card giveaway, and big used record drops happening throughout the day. Food from Mamacito’s Taquitos from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Find more information on The Record Ship website and on Facebook.

The Gate
12 p.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays, 115 S. Pattie St. Suite 101 in Wichita
Wichita’s go-to for heavy metal records and merchandise from around the world doesn't participate in Record Store Day, but it's a good post-RSD stop. The Gate will also host a screening of the 1985 cult classic “Better off Dead” (starring John Cusack) at 7 p.m. April 20 at the Tallgrass Film Center. Tickets cost $10 plus fees, and they can be ordered online. Learn more about The Gate on its website.

More information about Record Store Day, a directory of participating stores, and a list of this year’s releases can be found at

Kate Nance is a Kansas-born, Wichita-based independent writer covering local music, art, and culture. In previously published work, she has explored topics including public art, creative placemaking, artist perspectives, and displacement.

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