Any large, or at least moderately sized, city needs at least one good and reliable record shop. Where would a music scene come from if there was no place to sell old records to new people or to pick up the newest release at? Even if CD sales have hit rock bottom, vinyl sales have been at a steady increase despite the fact underground vinyl "sales" have remained relatively unchanged due to it never dying, but that's a whole different story. The internet has truly been a blessing from Merlin to any and all music fans making it stupid easy to track down any and all songs from any and all bands to ever exist. This constant streaming flow of information, music and art allows any and everyone to download until they are content, but there is a key element missing in only downloading music. Beyond not seeing the bands live which is a fucking travesty, you miss out on what those bands are about. Without holding a physical copy in your hands how will you really know what the album artwork looks close up? How will you read the lyric sheet and figure out what the band is saying and truly stands for? Digital files are all just bits of binary information, not beautiful multi-coloured slabs of splattered wax of all sorts of shapes and sizes and what's the beauty in just having gigs of information?
During the time I spent in Lawrence, Kansas I came upon a couple of local record stores. Kief's was originally located downtown and has moved to the outskirts for a bigger space as the dude owning it also owns a car/home stereo store. The only other shop I found was Love Garden Sounds. They were originally located up above the Toy Store(yes that's what it's called and what it is) up through a hallway covered in band stickers, show flyers and old 33/45 record covers. Once you walked inside it was just wall to wall records of all genres. They have since moved to a larger, more obvious location with big glass windows couple blocks up the street. Many people are still confused about this as they've had loyal customers from all over the lesser KC area and beyond for the last 15 years. As a result they still receive phone calls, e-mails, etc. asking where they are located or if they are still open.
Love Garden has DVDs and VHS tapes, a cassette rack, used CDs and all the vinyl you could search through as it's an always changing selection. I personally love digging through the used tapes, used 7" rack and the New Arrivals bin. I have found some true gems in those last two spots; "World Extermination" by Insect Warfare, "Anticapital" by Assuck(didn't buy it because it had a $30 price tag), "Violent Noise Party" 7" comp., "Bullet" 7" by the Misfits and an old school pressing of "Vol. 4" by Black Sabbath, amongst the hundreds of other records I bought there. Even for being full of indie rock lovers, hipsters, jazz heads and just good old fashion rockers, the staff knows their shit for the most part and are all very nice and welcoming to talk about whatever genre you're into and help you find something new to listen to. The only negative thing I can say about this shop is the hesitancy the owner has for ordering vinyl for me(others as well). I've tried ordering several different records through them, and the only ones they were willing to get were the first two Krallice LPs from Profound Lore/Gilead Media. They carry Relapse, Southern Lord, Hydra Head and some other high profile labels and will order from them, but I could not for the life of me get Kelly(owner) to get the Magrudergrind LP from Six Weeks or "Abuse" by Wormrot from TvG Records even after explaining I don't have a bank account and it's very hard for me to order things online. He kept saying how obscure those bands are and how hard they are to find, which is bullshit because I could provide exact links to order from I just needed a middle man. I didn't even mind paying the extra cash it would take! Most of the employees would gladly take my requests, but only to be shot down before any ordering took place. Anyway, the city is full of young hipsters, yuppies and indie rockers so most of the music selection is geared towards them. However, there are plenty of high profile metal, punk and hardcore labels and bands to be found especially in the dollar 7" bin and New Arrivals. I can not count how many times I made the "OMFG they have this!?!!?" face digging in the New Arrivals bin. You just really have to be ready to spend time searching for hidden gems, which in itself is part of the magic of visiting record stores. Spending hours on your knees supported only by a hard concrete floor, digging through literally tons of wax finding those rare glimpses of golden vinyl nuggets. That's the true magic. The last bit of true magic for this shop is the in house cats they have. I love the cats dearly and they love me, and everyone else back. I can spend an hour just petting a cat laying on my backpack. But please respect the shop and don't let the cats out if you get the chance to visit.