By William Carpenter
As the retail industry struggles to mitigate the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, some businesses have adapted more easily than others — and one local record store has ramped up efforts to safely serve their customers with some creative shopping options.
Since 2012, the record store The End of All Music has been a cultural cornerstone for Oxford, Mississippi. While owner David Swider says he did not structure The End of All Music to be a fulfillment center, he has been strictly adhering to social distancing regulations and has recently been picking, packing and shipping records by himself.
“I hate to use this phrase lightly, but we’re kinda too small to fail,” Swider said. “A lot of record stores had to scramble just to get a website up when all this stuff started happening, and I’ve been selling stuff online since we opened in 2012.”
While The End of All Music was well-prepared for the transition to online shopping, Swider was not prepared for the high volume of orders, and had to quickly acquire enough packing materials to ensure all orders are safely delivered.
“It’s definitely a lot of work for less money,” Swider said. “It’s pretty much nonstop from when I get here in the morning to when I finally pull myself away at night. I could easily work all night and probably still not be caught up.”
While the store has received extensive support from the local community — Swider spends up to three hours a day delivering orders to residents in and around Oxford — they have received online orders from patrons around the country. So far, online sales for 2020 have already surpassed the numbers for all of 2019.
The store has also introduced a new way to connect with the community in their “We Pick ‘Em” service, where Swider personally picks out records for customers based on their preferences.
Swider has increased the store’s online presence with short videos he has added to the store’s social media. The promotion of the stores makeshift “Dumb Waiter” is among the most popular.
Though Swider says that nothing can match the experience of shopping in the store, things have been going well for The End of All Music.
“Sure, I had my moments where I’m like ‘This is so screwed, what are we gonna do?’ But I haven’t had a full-blown freakout yet,” Swider said. “It’s been really good, it helps that we are busy fulfilling orders. I do feel strangely optimistic.”
The social media personality known as “record_lady” runs an Instagram page where she travels to different record stores and details her record selections with her followers. She included The End of All Music in a recent Instagram post, calling for people to support their local record store.
“If you have the means to, I hope you will consider placing an online order too,” she said in the post. “Life would simply not be the same without these wonderful places and the community they create for us.”