Record Store Day is the annual celebration of our beloved record stores. It is a time when we can all get together and celebrate everything that is great about these beloved places. A time when we have all gotten up far too early to queue for hours outside our favourite record store for that limited edition vinyl. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Record Store Day 2020 has already been postponed. Twice. The organisers behind this event have had to think creatively to ensure this community event can be held and does what it was always intended to do; to ensure that money is ploughed into the tills of our record stores and help them during these challenging times. Not to mention, how best to deal with the mountains of releases that have been pressed in advance. The first event we have to look forward to is the new Love Record Stores event on Saturday 20th June. This would have been the date that Record Store Day had originally been re-arranged to. The hero of the moment, Tim Burgess, is the ambassador of this event. This event is a partnership with a number of record labels to provide a selection of limited releases which will be available from 9am on the morning of Saturday 20th June. Fans will be able to head online to the participating record stores’ websites and try and order from their wish list. Limited editions will be available from Oasis, The Libertines, Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, Belle and Sebastian, Tim Burgess, Bon Iver, Cherry Ghost and Caribou to name but a few. We won’t have the same physical experience as previous years but there will be a virtual queue as demand will undoubtedly be high. Record Store Day organisers have also set aside three dates for later in the year when it is hoped that the world will be a safer place and more people can get back inside the stores that mean so much to us. These events are known as RSD Drops 2020 and will be held on August 29th, September 26th and October 24th. The list of what will be available on those dates has been released and music fans are being encouraged to let their favourite record store know what they are interested in, so they can order them in. In recent writings we have talked about the effects of COVID-19, and how the world is changing. When we survive this (which we will) our record stores are going to be more important than ever. Independent Record Stores are a huge part of our society and culture, we really could not survive without them. Growing up these were the places we could go and get hold of the music that we read about in NME or heard John Peel play late at night. Also, the number of albums I have bought as a result of just browsing through the racks or recommendations from the staff is something you could not get anywhere else. I have such a soft spot for Spillers Records in Cardiff; the sights, the sounds, the smells of going into that shop as a teenager will always evoke happy memories for me. I am sure my parents used that store as a child minding service, leaving me in there when they went around Cardiff doing their shopping. Imagine a world where these places do not exist, a place where you could not go and see people who you might not be friends with, or might never talk to, but yet know that they share many of your values and your passion for music. Since lockdown, Record Stores have been doing what they can to keep going, to keep in touch with their communities, ensuring regular customers together with new customers get the records that they love. They have managed to do this through online deliveries, and personal deliveries in the local area. Strand Records in Stoke has had regular (socially distanced) meet ups with a member of the AMP team in a mutually distanced car park to ensure he has his regular vinyl fix. As England sees some shops re-opening, it is going to be very difficult for record stores to do the same, given that the biggest experience of stepping foot inside the store is taking your time and browsing. Given the current circumstances and guidelines that still need to be met, this is not going to be easy. Some have made the decision to try and re-open and I am sure they will do so safely and ensure that staff and customers are safe. Some have chosen to stay closed and wait a bit longer. The most important thing that we can all do right now, whether the store is physically open or closed, is make sure that we buy records/CDs/tapes/books/t-shirts from these independent venues. Record stores and independent stores in general are the heartbeat of our towns and cities. Their role and importance in society has probably never been so important. If you are in a position to do so, please do what you can to show your love and appreciation for these cultural institutions.