published Thursday, April 18th, 2013

In Tune: Chad's Records sees boom, Record Store Day looms

To those who used to frequent Chad's Records on Vine Street, the idea of owner Chad Bledsoe responding positively to questions about his business probably sounds like the start of a tall tale.

In all fairness, he didn't have much to be happy about. Despite being right next to a college campus since 1999, his Vine Street location was too far off the beaten path to be seen by random passers-by. I lived down the block for years and can't recall ever seeing more than a handful of people in there at once.

Yet since a fire in February forced him to move to the North Shore, Bledsoe is sounding positively bubbly compared to his customary, Eeyore-like fatalism.

"Things are better than they were over in that little dead hole I had to stay in forever," he said earlier this week. "I think over time it's going to be really good here."

Bledsoe dodged a bullet in February when the fire that destroyed neighboring Toast Cafe caused minimal damage to his store. He was able to move over almost his entire inventory of 10,000 LPs and 2,000 CDs to Winder Binder, where he has bunked up with cousin and gallery owner David Smotherman. There, he's finally seeing increased sales, thanks, he said, to the North Shore's higher foot traffic.

"Stuff has been moving like it should have been moving all along," he said. "We're getting all the impulsive people now."

Records, like all things in the digital age, are readily available online, but there's something special about shopping at independent brick-and-mortar retailers. Owners like Bledsoe thrive on turning customers onto fantastic, obscure releases, and many was the time I fell in love with the albums Bledsoe played through his store's speakers.

If you're a fan of Chad's or any of the area's other vinyl retailers, Saturday is Record Store Day, a national celebration of the independent stores that helped drive record sales in 2012 for the fifth consecutive year, according to Nielsen SoundScan reports.

To celebrate, Chad's, 40 Frazier Ave., will offer an all-day sale, and Mayfield's All Killer No Filler, 2841 Dayton Blvd., will present a free in-store show featuring Future Virgins, Tuff Tits, The Bohannons and Cowboy Keith starting at 1 p.m. Patrons are encouraged to bring vinyl to trade.

At best, you'll find some choice additions to your collection. At worst, you'll be helping Bledsoe keep the blues at bay. Either way, I'd say that's worth getting out of bed for.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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