I know that it’s hard to realize this, but the days of actually having compact discs are fading away faster and faster each day. With everyone going all digital now, CD’s, vinyl, cassettes, and even 8 tracks are becoming a memory. I love the feel of a CD case. I love opening it up and reading all the liner notes. I love reading about who the band is thanking, and where the album was recorded. I love being able to read the lyrics to songs. However, with this change of how we get our music in the past 8-10 years, record stores are slowly becoming extinct.
The second you walked into a record store, something magical happened. The music of unknown bands blaring thru the speakers placed all around the corners of the store. The rows and rows of CDs alphabetically placed by band name. The section of vinyl records right across the CDs. The smells of hundreds of incents in clear glass jars. People standing around flipping thru the vinyl records, with a focused look on their faces, as if they have been given a special assignment-find the one vinyl album that will be just perfect for the collection that you have started. You notice people standing around the register, talking about music. The greatest thing about record stores- the minute you walked into a record store, all your troubles were left outside. People embraced you. It didn’t matter what you listened to. Shit-you could be a huge bluegrass fan. People inside a record store would look at you and say, ‘Tell me-what band or artist should I listen to?’ For people that were viewed as different, or weird-didn’t matter. People in record stores would embrace you.
Sadly, though, record stores have slowly become a thing in the past. Most of the record stores in the US have gone bankrupt. Once stood a place to escape life’s troubles and find music to listen to has now become a place where dust and cobwebs start conventions. Once a time, you could walk past a record store, and see all the local bands and artists have their upcoming gigs plastered all the windows. Now-the remains of tape scattered all the windows just smack you in the face of what once was.
Thankfully, there is still a place in the Oregon District still stands firm to the way things were. The place is called Omega Music.
Until just a couple of years ago, it was called Gem City Records. The building first opened back in 1981 in the Oregon District. It became a staple of Dayton. Throughout the years, Gem City
started to sell video games, movies, and of course music. What made the store have its charm is the fact that the store would be the place to go and buy your local music. Local bands would come to the establishment and play shows, giving people the chance to be able fully appreciate the music scene in Dayton.
Sadly, with the iPod, and iTunes starting to have its stranglehold on people, people started to not come to Gem City as much. People, like me (the devoted few that refused to fall into the trap of just buying all of my music online), still visited the shop, but you couldn’t help but noticed that once a building filled with music junkies became a place where you saw tumbleweeds roll thru.
Gem City became a place where I found out about Guided By Voices. It was a place where I go, and buy my Pearl Jam albums (side note: be aware-I am a die-hard Pearl Jam fan. I could go on for days, no wait-years-explaining how they have changed my life and music). It was where I would go and talk to older cats, and hear their stories. In January 2010, Gem City Records closed its doors. The days of record stores in town were done. Technology won the fight. If I wanted to buy any CDs, I would have to go somewhere else. For a lot of us, this felt as if one of our family members died. It was a sad day. I remember standing across the street the day it closed. I just stood there, thinking a million things that could and should have happened. I started thinking that I was my fault it closed. I felt numb. Yeah, I know. It was just a business. To me-it was more. It was home. And, that day-my home was gone.
Last year, a miracle happened. A businessman who had a dream of owning his own record store, Gary Staiger, moved his record store down to the Oregon District, and to the old Gem City Records building. When I heard the news-it was like I became a kid at Christmas time again! I couldn’t believe it.
A few weeks ago, I decided to stop by the old stomping grounds of musical roots. The minute I walked in, those goose bumps crawled all over my body again. I looked all around me. Those feelings of being in a record store came back to me as if they never left-the bicycle theory. I just walked around, amazed at how the place just looked. A section just dedicated to local music. A large section of vinyl records. The music…oh shit-the music blaring thru the speakers. The people at the register talking. I walked around and started flipping thru the vinyl. I felt like I was home again. I will not lie-I felt a small tear roll down my face. It was overwhelming to see that the days of records stores were still alive.
If you are a music fan, I truly recommend going to Omega Music. If you haven’t experienced a record store, I think that its time that you do now. Go in, and just take a minute. Look around you. Notice the history all around you. Go and look at the local music section. Talk to the people there. Listen to their stories of how music has changed their life. Take in the hundreds of ready to be burned incents that float in the building all around. Glance at the movie posters that were from the 80s. Take in everything that the old building gives you. Maybe, just maybe, you too will realize just how much the record store truly means to not only our area, but for you…