To vinyl collectors, Record Store Day is the equivalent of Christmas morning. And with the seventh-annual event being celebrated Saturday, audiophiles will flock to their local record store to try to get their hands on great deals and limited-edition LPs and Eps, some of which are only available that day.
The hundreds of rarities include Nirvana's 7-inch single "Pennyroyal Tea" / "I Hate Myself and Want To Die," which the band never released because of frontman Kurt Cobain's death in 1994; a clear vinyl reissue of The Notorious B.I.G.'s last studio album, "Life After Death"; a 7-inch EP split between The Cure and Dinosaur Jr.; and a triangle-shaped, 10-inch glow-in-the-dark record from soul singer Mayer Hawthorne.
Stores in Orange County are preparing for hordes of music fans.
Factory Records in Costa Mesa will sell thousands of $1 used records in the parking lot. Owner David James plans to bring out a box of rare and expensive vinyl, and is holding a raffle that will give the winner a five-minute head start on Record Store Day shopping.
"We take it a step beyond what a lot of the other stores do," he said.
Over at Dr. Freecloud's Record Shoppe in Fountain Valley, owner Ron Dedmon will have a smaller, $1 used record sale and incorporate live DJ sets.
"It's going to be open to all styles of music, as long as it's on vinyl," he said. "Everything we do is pro-vinyl. That's kind of our push here."
At Sound Spectrum in Laguna Beach, owner Jim Otto is planning to give away records, CDs and posters.
Independent music label and record store TKO Records in Huntington Beach plans to press copies of The Beltones' "On Deaf Ears," which was released only on CD in 1998, employee James Allison said.
Port of Sound Record Shoppe in Costa Mesa is stocking up on the Record Store Day releases.
"Sales and all that are great, but we want to please everybody," employee Kim Conlan said. "We've got connections with just about everybody, so we're telling everybody that we should have at least one of every title, if not more."
Ordering highly sought records is the toughest part for owners, since so many stores are competing to sell the small-batch releases.
"I'll order 10 copies of The Doors' 'Strange Days' and I'll get two, or maybe I'll get 10," Otto said with a laugh. "When people call, we try to do our best, but it's kind of part of the independent spirit of Record Store Day."
Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 by independent shop owners in San Francisco.
The event has gradually grown as more stores, labels and artists have become involved.
Dr. Freecloud's Dedmon began selling vinyl in 1994, but started working with the medium in 1986 as an electronic music DJ.
"From 1994 to 2000, we considered that our golden years," he said. "At one point, [Dr. Freecloud's] was listed as a Fortune 500 company, and we got noticed because of our earnings.…Then in the early 2000s, when the digital download, MP3, iTunes and Napster came in, it did take a toll on the store."
As exemplified by Record Store Day, vinyl, which is known for its warmth and clarity, has come back as the go-to choice for audiophiles.
"There's a richer, thicker sound to vinyl, especially in the heavier 180-gram vinyl, the Half Speed Masters or 45-speed," Otto said. "The first time somebody hears their favorite record on vinyl, when they've always listened to it on MP3, they can hear the difference."
Conlan said, "You're using a needle that's actually picking up the sound rather than a laser picking up the data. It's very tangible compared to the digital stuff."
James and others believe that people are beginning to tire of digital and want to return to a medium that has stood the test of time.
"You can't get something this cool when you're on iTunes," he said, holding up a copy of The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour."
"You can't experience pulling the record out and looking at the cover art.… I think there's a small majority of people that are tired of just sitting at home and pushing buttons to get everything they want."