Celebrate Record Stores: Jordan Pries & Electric Kitsch

Posted In: Culture, Community Profiles,   From Issue 795   By: Robert 'Bo' White

21st August, 2014     0

I’ve known Jordan Pries for several years now. Initially I rode his heavy metal wave with Beast in the Field. His band played at White’s Bar a half dozen times and each show was successful from any angle through the looking glass. They had plenty of fans and the music was simply stunning, hardcore and melodic. He was thoughtful and articulate - not just a raver in a rock & roll band.
I made a few trips to Electric Kitsch, his record store located next to the State Theatre in Bay City; and I was struck by his mild manner, gift for gab and love for vinyl. As we made tentative steps toward friendship, I invited Jordan over to my home to sell him some vintage vinyl including the MC5, SRC, Manfred Man and the Spencer Davis Group. I was amazed at his vast knowledge of classic sixties rock & roll and his academic interest in the value of these long forgotten nuggets.
Jordan knew I was gradually disengaging from my collection and helped me determine the value of my collection of 45’s, EPs and those wondrous long players, round black plastic with a hole in the middle. I loved the cover art, liner notes and the printed lyrics. I could pick up the cover and read it like a book scouring for any true hint about the character of my heroes. I see Jordan Pries as the keeper of the flame. Electric Kitsch is now in a class by itself, ready for the next big thing. Celebrate The Record Store. Vinyl is alive and well!
Review: Do you see record stores as an anachronism?

Jordan: I really don't see them as being archaic, or old-fashioned, as some would say. Music is an art that people will constantly and consistently be creating. Record stores will always be an outlet for that art. Nothing is more satisfying than walking into a Record Store, searching for that lost treasure, or discovering a new treasure. Records have been printed for over 100 years in its current form and there is an endless supply of them. There isn't enough time to find them all, or listen to them all, which is why I think Record Stores will always be relevant. People will continue to search for them.
Review:Do you believe that record stores are being systematically wiped out by digital downloads, Internet mail orders, and big box stores like Walmart?

Jordan: I don't believe that these sources you mentioned can wipe out record stores. People like you and me love the tangibility of objects. There is a feeling you get when you hold something, you can touch it, feel it, discover it. The ones who enjoy that feeling are immune to the instant "gratification" the Internet may provide. I am completely indifferent to YouTube, mail orders, eBay, etc.. I don't even care they exist, and there are others who feel the same way.
Review: Does it seem odd to you that so many major record chains are outside of the USA such as HMV, Virgin Megastores, FYE, Tower etc?

-I believe the US has always been behind Europe in the arts/music. It seems like they are more important overseas, and even in Canada. Certain countries actually give money to artists and musicians who are serious about what they do. It's promoted to an extant where artists can make a living at it. And I think that is why Europe is having success with record stores and festivals. It's more mainstream and considered important.
Review: Why have so many U.S. record stores including big ones like Tower folded? Sam Goody has closed their doors and yet Rough Trade is expanding stores in London and New York.

Jordan: I believe there is a time and place for everything. Some trends catch on quicker than others. Where there are trends, people gravitate towards and New York and London have always been places for people to look for trends. They are places where people make things happen on a larger scale. That's why they are some of the most visited, revered cities in the world.
Review: When did you open your record store?

We opened the doors at Electric Kitsch on June 22nd, 2012, and had no idea what we were doing, but did it anyway. It's our only store, but we're hoping to have a larger location in the future.
Review: What do/ you pay distributors for new vinyl releases? 

We pay what they charge! The cost is different from label-to-label, distributor-to-distributor. Going with smaller labels and distributors will get you a better cost, but sometimes the convenience of a One-Stop (a large distributor carrying many, many titles) is key, only you’ll pay more. 
Review: Do you buy and sell you used records. What do you usually pay for used records?

Jordan: We definitely buy and sell used records. It's the bulk of our business and usually the biggest moneymaker. Sometimes buying them is difficult, for many reasons. We'd love to give people as many great deals as we can, but many folks just don't understand that we also need to make money, and it can get frustrating. For the most part, we have to buy records at a low, low rate, unless it is something incredibly rare and valuable. People also don't realize this: Say I buy a record for $1, but it's worth $10. Some might consider that a rotten deal. The thing is, now I have to sell it and it might sit for months and months, and then maybe get marked down, and still not sell. So now I've been sitting on this record for five months, and while I only have $1 into it, is it even worth it, to sell for $6 or $7? Should I have bought it for even less? It's a really tough task, and it's delicate, because you can't explain the business and logistics to someone selling you records in ten seconds. The risk is all on me. If you want cash for your records, I can give you cash. But I can't pay you what I don't have, and usually record stores don't have much.
Review: It seems that vinyl records may be here to stay in contrast to CDs Do you agree? Why did CD/’s fall from grace?

Jordan: I think the reason CDs have had their time is that CDs were marketed as "sounding better", and "lasting longer" than vinyl, and they don't, in any regard! They sound harsh, shrill, lifeless, terrible low end, and they actually start to break down. I almost get dissatisfaction when holding a CD. It's plastic, it's small, it seems like the cases are always broken, haha. Plus, there are just so many more records out there than CDs! 


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