The Record Collector in Bordentown, NJ is just a block or so away from Randy Now’s Man Cave (which also sells vinyl plus vintage toys) so it’s a good idea to do both of these on the same day. Read my review of Randy Now’s Man Cave over here.
Image credit: The Record Collector’s website.
The Record Collector is dedicated more toward just vinyl and CDs with some collectible books and DVDs thrown in for good measure. This isn’t a bad thing. They also have a stage in the back of the shop for bands to play on. This is all a great recipe for a music store.
Unfortunately we had issues with this store.
My problem with the store wasn’t the focus – it was the implementation and the person staffing it. I’ll explain.
I felt that the selection of rock/pop/metal was poor and disjointed. It was almost as if someone who had no knowledge of these genres assembled the range of albums they had for sale. It didn’t feel curated and it certainly didn’t even cover the basics that most vinyl stores would offer.
Perhaps they aren’t focusing on these genres in favor of jazz, 50s, and country, but I wouldn’t be able to say because I do not have any expertise in those genres.
The layout of the shop does it no favors. It feels disheveled and doesn’t lead the customer’s eye toward what they should be looking at. They have plenty of space but they are not optimizing it. Your eye might fall on a roll of duct tape, crumpled papers, wires, and boxes of supplies just sitting out rather than an item you can buy. I felt they failed to make good usage of the space and especially the sales space up front at the register. Many record shops are crowded due to lack of space. They actually have the space here – they just aren’t using it.
The vinyl selection was small when compared with the size of the shop (Metal was a 2ft section on a shelf) and the CD collection was larger than I feel it should have been and presented in an awkward way that took up the largest footprint it could have. Let’s be real – who buys CDs anymore? I buy vinyl in person and CDs used on Amazon because vinyl can easily get damaged in shipping.
We spent 4 hours buying things in Randy Now’s Man Cave down the street and just 1 hour in here even though this shop was larger. I was actually ready to jet in 15 minutes but Harknell took much longer than me to look through everything. This was the first vinyl store I’ve been in that literally didn’t have anything that I wanted to buy in stock. I normally am a stupid big spender every time I enter a vinyl shop.
A compounding factor is that the prices were about $3-$5 higher on everything than every other store. The CDs were priced at 3 or 4 times higher than what you’d pay for them online and significantly higher than other physical stores.
From the perspective of a vinyl collector – I am not paying $12 for a CD. My mindset is that I’d pay up to $30 for a vinyl album without blinking, but if I also have to buy it on CD I am not OK with CD prices that fell out of the 1990s. I’ll pay $5 and under for a CD to go with my vinyl and that’s it. Why? Because I can buy it for that online. Customer purchasing habits have changed.
That said, I am one of those people who will pay more for better service. I could have written off the higher prices as a non-issue if the service was there.
The service was not there.
The employee who was working was bizarre. She was over the top friendly in an almost alarming way but completely unhelpful. Every question we asked her was deferred and left unanswered. At every vinyl store I’ve shopped at in the country the people working there generally seemed like they at least enjoyed music and wanted to help the customers get the items they were seeking. It did not feel that way here.
For example, if we asked for a specific album we were searching for we were told to go home and go on their website. Now, I’m not a genius, but if the biggest competition to a record store is the internet, why would you tell customers to go to the internet rather than helping them in your shop?
It gets better. If we asked for the price of an album on the wall she’d just say “those are $50 and up”.
That wasn’t what I asked.
No shit, Sherlock. The albums on the wall are the expensive ones. DUH. I do not give a shit if they are $50 and up. I want to buy this particular item on the wall please tell me how much it costs. I have money.
Nope. She would not tell me how much it cost and I sure as hell was not going to ask her a second time to do her job. They lost what probably was a pretty good sale from me. Thank you for the unhelpful information.
My honest opinion is that this place is good for a look if you are looking for a rare album that you haven’t found elsewhere. The fact that it’s near the amazing Randy Now’s Man Cave makes it a no-brainer to check it out, too. I was not impressed with the poor selection and service that urges customers to go online to check their catalog rather than helping them in the store. At that point you may as well just shop online somewhere else instead of coming here.
The Record Collector could be a phenomenal store if they re-evaluated how they are presenting and pricing items toward their customers, made more of an effort to have knowledgeable people curate the vinyl selection in the shop, and made sure their employees actually helped people in the store rather than sending them to the internet. Unfortunately the only way I’d return to this store is if I had time to kill after shopping at Man Cave.