Next door to Sugar and Spice, there is a much more unassuming store. The records on display in the window show both the markings of good taste and a good collection of skulls. Inside the store, the owners have made the best use of the space – the only exhibits are the vinyl being sold, and the flyers for parties where the records will be played. Wooden shelves provide the housing for stacks of second-hand records, complete with their own dusty stories.
Taco is sat at the cash register talking on the phone when I walk in. I’ve met him at some point through our mutual friends, and when we get talking, we try to remember when, maybe in Brighton? Maybe at a Struttin’ party? Who knows. I tell Taco I’ve been writing posts about Record Store Day and he quickly tells me that the store won’t be doing anything for it. But it doesn’t matter, Waxwell Records is one of Amsterdam’s best second-hand record stores, it has heart and if I’m writing about Amsterdam’s local record stores, it needs to be included.
Taco tells me a little about the store. Along with two others, he started with the store 6 years ago, whilst working and DJing at De Duivel. In the beginning, the store was called Kids Love Wax. After realising they had different visions for the store, the two other partners left to pursue other opportunities while Taco carried on with a new partner, making a conscious decision to keep the place as a second-hand record store.
In hindsight, that decision has been a great one. Many of the stores selling new records have closed down, whilst vinyl sales have increased over the last few years. Indeed Taco has seen an influx of 16-18 year olds coming to buy vinyl and whilst we’re talking, there are two young guys deciding on their next purchase.
We talk about Taco’s first record purchase. It’s a toss-up between the Grease soundtrack and Roger Glover’s Love is All. We’re thinking the latter might be a bit before my time but Taco’s enthusiastic about the video, and after seeing it, so am I. Here it is for your viewing pleasure…
Waxwell Records originally started out selling soul, funk, hiphop and jazz. After several trips to the US, they noticed classic rock had a larger presence and brought some back.
“The market’s too small to specialize. You need a variety, and classic rock will always sell. And Queens of the Stone Age and their offshoots are great examples of today’s rock that sells well. And anything off Jack White’s label (Third Man Records) will sell like crazy,” Taco explains.
When I ask what the most popular record is in the store, it’s a quick answer. “Shuggy Otis’ Inspiration Information. When it’s in stock, I can guarantee I’ll sell it within 48 hours.”
We get back to talking about Record Store Day and Taco mentions there’s an element of cynicism about the event, and it’s easy to see why. Every flyer or website will talk about special or limited editions of classic collections. Mostly these are slight variations of the last editions.
“The people buying these are collectors. They’re already spending plenty of money on vinyl, but they’re coaxed into buying more with some fancy packaging or the addition of a free poster,” says Taco. “Then on the other hand there are those people that just want to give record stores a spotlight, which is the real deal, and that’s cool.”
Taco will be DJing with Bart Fdr and Alviz (from Lefties Soul Connection) at the return of their raw funk & soul night, Struttin’, on April 27th @Toko MC, Westergasfabriek. An interesting sidenote to this: Ewoud and I got together at a Struttin’ night almost 6 years ago in Bitterzoet, whilst dancing around to Bart’s set, who I was then lodging with. Cheers Papa P – I owe you a birthday beer!
I only managed to visit 4 local record stores this week because each one’s owner was so interesting to talk to and happy to share their knowledge, that I always stayed longer than expected – and met cool people and discovered new music in the process.
These days we spend more time socializing, learning and getting news from behind computer screens. A much sought-after record can be found and bought with a 10-second google search and a click of a button. And whilst this is great advancement and a privileged convenience in busy times, the purchase doesn’t always feel as rewarding as it once did.
Quality conversation about your mutual musical interests combined with that moment when you happen upon a forgotten jewel or historical treasure after flipping through hundreds of frayed covers are two pretty good reasons why local record stores should remain important fixtures in our communities.