15 April 2009

Record Store Day, Day 3: Earshot, Greenville, SC

If you're just tuning in, all this week at SIO, I'm profiling some independent record stores that have had an impact on my brief tenure on this bright blue marble. I am NOT ranking these record stores, merely providing anecdotes and/or vignettes of what these specific records stores mean in the context of a decade-plus of throwing money at patchouli-smelling, cooler-than-you hipster types.

The city of Greenville, SC is nestled in the Upstate of South Carolina between the picturesque mountains of Blue Ridge and the used-to-be farmland of the Piedmont. It's is a lovely city with a burgeoning arts community and a myriad of culinary shops and restaurants. There's lots of bars, but none you would really want to go to. Oh, and it's also home to Bob Jones University and it is the absolute BUCKLE in the Bible Belt. A trip down Main St on a Saturday evening will allow you at least three accostings from men with Christian pamphlets, hand-painted signs, and megaphones. And did I mention that it's home to Bob Jones University?

For a city with a fledgling, mostly adult contemporary music scene, Greenville does have one thing that I loved: two of the finest record stores in the Southeast. The first one, Earshot, was formely Manifest Disc and Tapes, so it's still a little odd for me to refer to the store as Earshot. (In fact, most people I know in the area still refer to it as Manifest.) But Manifest closed all of its Southeast locations (except for one or two) and packed it in, foreseeing the downfall of the independent record store. The Greenville store was slated to close its doors; I made a farewell trip and purchased Braid, Frame and Canvas. And then I heard rumors that someone had bought the record store and planned to continue its existence. This rumor remained unconfirmed until I road by the store one day and saw a giant sign that read, "We Ain't Going Nowhere." Hell. Yeah.

Earshot is huge. It has a used section that runs at least 50-60 feet long (the length of one wall of the store). The other walls is nothing but DVDs and used movies and the entire middle section houses all the CDs you could want. I have NEVER gone to Earshot and not found exactly what I was looking for. Their music selction is exceptional; it's the largest I've seen. And they have books and magazines--and you know how I feel about books and magazines.

I've bought too many things at Earshot to recall here. But, oddly enough, the last purchase I made there is the one that sticks out most to me. I was back in Greenville my good friend's baby shower. He used to reside in Greenville, but has moved to the large metropolis of Hickory, NC. Apparently the independent record store scene in Hickory is somewhat lacking, so he requested that we all make a trip to Earshot while he was in town. We obliged and spent most of our time digging through the mountain of used CDs. (Interesting detour: my friend brought up an interesting point that the used CD sections are record stores get exponentially better the worse the economy gets because people are selling off their collections for cash.)

As I gathered my significant other and prepared to say my goodbyes, I found my friend struggling over whether or not to buy a DVD copy of Heavy Metal Parking Lot. His spending limit for the trip was $10 (babies = expensive, ya know), but HMPL was a whole $13. I purchased it for him because I believe that any man who is about to be a father deserves, at the very least, his very own copy of Heavy Metal Parking Lot on DVD.


My friend posed a very important question regarding this cover: "Who knows what that guy is saying, but, more importantly, who knows what that girl is thinking? She's probably thinking, 'Heh, heh, we gonna have some sex tonight!'"

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