Chico’s Record Store Day gatherings draw vinyl fanatics

Shared interests and eclectic finds for music lovers.


Posters and many, many records fill every inch of Melody Records. Photo by Heather Taylor.

What does a local record store offer to a community? Record Store Day is intended to inspire people to visit nearby stores and find out for themselves. 

On this year’s Record Store Day, held April 22, two different opportunities to find new music and like-minded collectors were available through Outpatient Records’ pop-up event at Naked Lounge, and a more traditional shopping experience at Melody Records

The idea for Record Store Day began in 2007, and the first event was held in 2008. The main purpose behind these early, smaller events remains today, as vinyl collectors are encouraged to visit local, independent record stores. Part of the appeal is provided through exclusive, limited vinyl releases. 

The  chance of cultivating connections and finding people with similar interests is also an important aspect of visiting local stores.

“Record stores are gathering places. They’re rooms full of carefully curated art and entertainment where you can find a friend, take a date, start a band. We all need these gathering places now more than ever,” said 2023’s Record Store Day ambassadors, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires. “In your local record store, you find common ground and the excitement of discovery.”

When Record Store Day started, vinyl records were not quite as popular as they are today. Market trends showed 2022 was the 17th year of rising vinyl sales, and only the second year since 1991 that vinyl records outsold CDs. This is attributed largely to the astronomical sales of Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” album, which was released in multiple vinyl variants

There were, for better or worse, not many Taylor Swift albums to be seen at Naked Lounge or Melody Records. 

“In your local record store, you find common ground and the excitement of discovery.”

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires

Outpatient Records’ pop-up record shop at Naked Lounge was thoughtfully curated. Vinyl vendors were spread throughout the café, with the largest selection of record crates concentrated on the stage. 

The boxes of records were generally labeled by genre, so collectors of specific styles could know where to start looking. For the adventurous, fun could be had picking a box and sorting through at random, as the eclectic mix of records offered a feeling of authentic discovery. 

The tone at Naked Lounge was relaxed, with an open door to beautiful spring weather enticing passersby. Those who were not flipping through stacks gathered in small groups, catching up or talking about music. 

Instead of seeking out the most exclusive Record Store Day finds, the focus was on community and opportunities to find new artists and records. 

While Matthew Garcia, the founder of Outpatient Records, has operated similar pop-up record sales since 2014, he decided to make the Record Store Day event different from his typical events. Record vendors from Davis, Fresno and Sacramento brought selections of records to sell, including Record Ghoul and Miguel Gomez

A less tangible source of music flowed from the DJ booth, as a rotation of artists played mixes of music to soundtrack the event. 

A short walk from Naked Lounge, Melody Records, Chico’s longest-running record store, also welcomed vinyl fanatics. 

Owner Ray Coppock said his store has participated in Record Store Day “since the beginning.” 

The most in-demand record from this year’s list of exclusives was Taylor Swift’s “Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions,” said a Melody Records employee. There were 75,000 copies pressed for national distribution, which was far more than any previous Record Store Day exclusive. 

Even so, when entering the store, it was impossible to escape hearing the lone employee manning the shop register yell “We do not have any more of the Taylor Swift album!” 

Melody Records had a line at the door when opening for Record Store Day, and many exclusives went quickly to the earliest birds in search of their desired worms. Still, the selection of records across genres and from a staggering amount of artists made a visit to Melody Records well worth a collector’s time. 

The store’s well-organized stacks of music spanning decades are illustrative of Melody Records’ history. 

“We opened on September 1, 1979, with an inventory of about 1,500 records,” said Coppock. Much of the store’s inventory at the beginning came from his shopping at swap meets and thrift stores. 

While Melody Records initially carried only used records, it began to expand to include other forms of media including CDs and cassette tapes. The store now carries a mix of used and new records, other music and stickers.

Handwritten receipt on black background.
Handwritten receipts at Melody Records slowed down the line, but no one complained about the wait. Photo by Heather Taylor.

Lately, Coppock said posters are a popular item. Concert posters, portraits of artists and movie memorabilia can all be seen, strung low and dense from the store’s ceiling and walls.

While music itself is always culturally important, the method of playing and distributing it is subject to varying trends.

“Sometime in the late 1990s records were growing less popular, and for several years I wondered if I was going to have to find something else to do,” Coppock said. “I’m not sure what year it was, but records started getting popular again and I think it’s been pretty good ever since.”

Melody Records’ busy crowd for Record Store Day represented this upturn in interest. The line behind the register stretched to the back of the crowded store, and most customers had more than one record in their hands. 

The checkout system for Melody Records is as analog as the music they carry, with an employee filling out paper receipts by hand. Considering this, and the fact that the employee was also answering the phone and fielding questions simultaneously, the line moved quickly. No customers were heard complaining, and many flipped through nearby records as they waited, potentially finding even more items to take home. 

The age demographics of customers in the store varied, reflecting what Coppock has observed about his customer base of collectors. 

“There are older folks who have been doing it all their lives and younger folks who are just getting into it. I hope that customers leave the store thinking the prices are fair and liking the vibe,” Coppock said. “My initial experience with record stores was a lot of cool snobbiness and I try very hard not to fall into that.” 

Coolness was in abundance at both Record Store Day events, but snobbiness was nowhere to be found. 

Heather Taylor can be reached at [email protected].