Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Jordan Pries & Electric Kitsch

Celebrate Record Stores

Jordan Pries


Electric Kitsch


I’ve known Jordan Pries for several years now. Initially I rode his heavy metal wave with Beast in the Field. His band played White’s at least a half dozen times and each show was successful from any angle through the looking glass. They had plenty of fans and the music was simply stunning, hard core and melodic. He was thoughtful and articulate, not just a raver in a rock & roll band. I made a few trips to Electric Kitsch, his record store and I was struck by his mild manner, gift for gab and his love for vinyl. As we made tentative steps toward friendship, I invited Jordan over to my home to sell him some vintage vinyl including the MC5, SRC, Manfred Man and the Spencer Davis Group. I was amazed at his vast knowledge of classic sixties rock & roll and his academic interest in the value of these long forgotten nuggets. Jordan knew I was gradually disengaging from my collection and helped me determine the value of my collection of 45’s, EPs and those wondrous long players, round black plastic with a hole in the middle. I loved the cover art, liner notes and the printed lyrics. I could pick up the cover and read it like a book scouring for any true hint about the character of my heroes. I see Jordan Pries as the keeper of the flame. Electric Kitsch is now in a class by itself, ready for the next big thing.

Celebrate The Record Store. Vinyl is alive and well!

Do you see record stores as an anachronism?
I really don't see them as being archaic, or old-fashioned, as some would say. Music is an art, people will constantly, and consistently be creating it. Record stores will always be an outlet for that art. Nothing is more satisfying than walking into a Record Store, searching for that lost treasure, or an discovering a new treasure. Records have been printed for over 100 years (in its current form), there is an endless supply of them. There isn't enough time to find them all, or listen to them all, which is why I think Record Stores will always be relevant. People will continue to search for them. Not only is this a record store, but it's a community. One of my favorite stories (names changed to hide identity) is this one: When we opened the store, even before we opened, this gentleman, we'll call him Jack, came around every day to say how excited he was about the store. Jack has been a regular patron since we opened. People who thought Jack moved away from Bay City years ago, had no idea he was still around! He was reunited with friends, more people started coming around, hanging out, communing at the local record store! How cool is that!?


Do you believe that record stores are being systematically wiped  out by digital downloads, internet mail orders, big box stores. (Think Walmart), supermarkets?)
I don't believe that these sources you mentioned can wipe out record stores. People, like me, and you, love the tangibility of objects. There is a feeling you get when you hold something, you can touch it, feel it, discover it. The ones who enjoy that feeling, are immune to the instant "gratification" the internet may provide. I am completely indifferent to YouTube, mail orders, eBay, etc... I don't even care they exist, and there are others who feel the same way.



Does it seem odd to you that so many major record chains are outside of the USA incl HMV, Virgin Megastores, FYE, Tower etc?
-I believe the US has always been behind Europe in the arts/music. It seems like they are more important overseas, and even in Canada. Certain countries actually give money to artists and musicians who are serious about what they do. It's promoted to an extant where artists can make a living at it. And I think that is why Europe is having success with record stores, festivals, etc... it's more mainstream, and considered important.


In your view Why have so many US record stores (big and small) folded including Tower, Sam Goody have closed there doors and yet Rough Trade is expanding stores in London and New York?
-I believe there is a time, and place for everything. Some trends catch on quicker than others. Where there are trends, people gravitate to. New York and London have always been places for people to look for trends, they are places where people make things happen on a larger scale. That's why they are some of the most visited, revered cities in the world.

 When did you open your record store? Did you have other stores
We opened the doors at Electric Kitsch on June 22nd, 2012, and had no idea what we were doing, but did it anyway. It's our only store, but we're hoping to have a larger location in the future.

  What do/did you pay distributers for new vinyl releases
We pay what they charge! The cost is different from label-to-label, distributor-to-distributor. Going with smaller labels, and distributors will get you a better cost, but sometimes the convenience of a One-Stop (a large distributor carrying many, many titles) is key,, but you'll pay more 

Do you buy and sell you used records. What do you usually pay for used records?
We definitely buy, and sell used records. It's the bulk of our business, and usually the biggest money maker. Sometimes buying them is difficult, for many reasons. We'd love to give people as great of deals as we can, but many folks just don't understand that we to make money, and it can get frustrating. For the most part, we have to buy records at a low, low rate, unless it is something incredibly rare, and valuable. People also don't realize this: Say I buy a record for $1, but it's worth $10. Some might consider that a rotten deal. The thing is, now I have to sell it. It might sit for months, and months, and then maybe get marked down, and still not sell. So now I've been sitting on this record for five months, and while I only have $1 into it, is it even worth it, to sell for $6 or $7? Should I have bought it for even less? It's a really tough task, and it's delicate, because you can't explain the business and logistics to someone selling you records in ten seconds. The risk is all on me. If you want cash for your records, I can give you cash. But I can't pay you what I don't have, and usually record stores don't have much.

 What do you gauge their value you on?
There are several things, condition, and rarity. But sometimes you have to take into consideration what people want. If something is a hot seller, it doesn't matter how rare, or not rare it is, the price has to stay high. Take for instance Beatles, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd. While there millions, and millions of those records out there, everyone wants them. The demand must meet the price, which is why you see those records sell consistently for $25+, depending. 

 What do you pay for the purchase a big collection of vinyl – LPs,  78’s or 45’s
If someone is looking to get rid of the whole she-bang, the price has to be low. Record prices change day-to-day. You always have to buy for the lowest price possible, no matter what. In this area, the demand for 45s and 78s are so low, that I rarely buy them unless it's really sellable.


 It seems that vinyl records may be here to stay in contrast to CDs Do you agree? Why did CD/’s fall from grace?
I think the reason CDs have had their time is that CDs were marketed as "sounding better", and "lasting longer" than vinyl, and they don't, in any regard! They sound harsh, shrill, lifeless, terrible low end, and they actually start to break down. I almost get dissatisfaction when holding a CD. It's plastic, it's small, it seems like the cases are always broken, haha. Plus, there are just so many more records out there than CDs! 

How do you determine value of these products, memorabilia CDs, Vinyl 
There are a number of factors, internet sales, online databases, and the area you are in. I would say the cost of living in an area can also determine prices, and how many customers one store generates. 

Do you use eBay or Amazon or other online sources to buy or sell product?
-Sometimes one must use evilbay to get the most out of a particular product.  

Do you use media to promote your store?
Social media has played a large factor in promoting the store, especially Facebook. We can make updates, post pictures, events, and it goes out to thousands of people. However, word of mouth, to me, is still the best advertising.

Tell me about the influence of Record Day in April?
Record Store Day seems to have extreme pros and cons. On one hand, it's Christmas x 10 for Record Stores. On the other hand it, has turned record collecting into a piranha feeding frenzy for people who generally don't care about your store, making you want to pull out your own teeth. But I'll always participate.

What does Record Day mean to the collector?
Is this going to be anonymous? I don't think it's really for collector's, to be extremely ugly, and honest. It seems to be for people following a trend. I understand the hypocrisy behind that statement, because I own a record store that participates in the 'holiday". I like the idea behind it, getting people OUT to local record stores, supporting the small people, and businesses of the world. But there are always push-backs, too. People wanting to hoard all the releases, selling them on eBay, stores putting releases on eBay before RSD! It's almost a little too much.

Do repackaged records and boxed sets have value?
Yes, of course. For people who love music, that don't care about original pressings, imports, etc... that just want vinyl to listen to, they are wonderful. I own my represses simply because originals are too pricey, and I just want to listen to the darned thing. 

Do you make money on record day?
Record Store Day is the only "day" we make money.

 How much product do you sell? do you make money (ballpark) –
Total product, including tax for this past year was $5,885.18.

 Is it profitable?
Profit wasn't all that much, just over a grand, after all the expenses, food, drinks, paying out the bands that played, etc..

 Are you a vinyl history buff - can you speak to the history of  record stores as you know it and the ascendance of 12 inch and 45rpm records as well as the physical pleasure of holding a record and record cover in your hand?
I like to think that I am. I generally look for different things that most people don't look for. I would say 99% of music listeners just want to listen to what they're familiar with. For me, that's not good enough. I want weird percussion albums, Latin American Harp music, Turkish Psych, I want it all! I have a friend who hunts on YouTube for all these underground bands. For me, that does nothing, it's boring and it's trite. I want to have it in my hands. Anyone can go on YouTube and search "Mexican Psych", and find hundreds of videos. But that is hogwash as to holding the LP in your hand! I want the physicality of it. 

 Can you talk about the collecters thrill of finding an LP or 45 that that you’ve searched for years and finally found it?
I've definitely had those moments before! It's like finding that "great, white, whale", something you thought you'd never see, and then there it is, right in front of you! The most recent treasure was finding an absolutely mint copy of Edgar Broughton's "Sing, Brother, Sing", in the grossest garage I've ever been in. That was, like, a beacon of light, you know, when the choir starts singing!

Jordan Pries Electric Kitsch - Owner, collector, musician!

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