You know why it's cliche to talk about having your life changed in your formative years by a record store? Because it happens to so many damned people. Mine was ReConstruction Records on E. 6th Street in New York City, and I was 12 or 13 years old. ReCon was a volunteer run shop where you could get vinyl and some CDs by smaller indie, punk and hardcore bands, whose members often volunteered in the store. Probably because I looked like a 9 year old and was maybe five feet tall at the time, those people took me under their wing and introduced me to half of the music I still listen to to this day.
It was because of a small record store that I learned that there was good music being made by people in the neighborhood that I could see for five bucks. I had no idea that there was anything beyond the $40 Motley Crue concert until seeing a wall of flyers of bands I had never heard. The CD and record racks of great local bands like Rorschach, Quicksand, Sticks and Stones and Hell No had discs interspersed with touring acts that were coming through -- barely known bands like Green Day, Rancid and Jawbreaker that were allowed to make it to the east coast because of the smaller stores and fanzines that brought advance word about them, and the local bands that would play after them to make sure that their friends wouldn't leave before the touring band played.
Despite having no staff expenses and a string of fantastic benefit shows, ReCon couldn't pay the rent consistently and closed its doors in the fall of 1993. In the sixteen years since then, the struggle for other independent record stores (and chains too, for that matter) has only gotten worse.
This is "Bad Town", from Operation Ivy's Energy, one of the many life-altering discs I bought at ReConstruction Records on East 6th Street. Go buy some records at an independently owned record store to help make sure that your kids don't get robbed of a great but endangered coming of age experience.