If you live on the East Coast you’ve probably heard of Princeton Record Exchange (or Prex as it’s affectionately called). Heck, if you’re into records, you’ve probably heard of it wherever you are; it’s a pretty famous spot.
I’ve known about it for years, being a dyed-in-the-wool record geek myself; but I never made the trip before this past Saturday. I can report to you now that the place lives up to the hype!
Prex didn’t look huge when I walked in (years of hearing the name had clearly charged my imagination) but my estimated browsing time of an hour easily ran over another 40 minutes and could have gone on well beyond that. They’ve got a ton of vinyl, CDs, box sets, DVDs (if you’re into that kind of thing) and who knows what else, in new, used, and budget divisions.
I spent most of my time with the rock and jazz vinyl and CD sections and trawled very fruitfully through the budget CD wall and “new arrival” bins. Then I spent some more time with the punk and metal sections, and marveled at the selection of box sets — including dedicated bins for out of print Mosaic boxes! That’s the kind of detail we’re talking about. But I didn’t get near the big classical section, or into the vinyl “recent arrival” bins, let alone all the understock — TONS of understock. So when you make the trip, be sure to give yourself lots of time.
Another thing that was interesting about the shop is that it was very busy the whole time I was there — and this was, I take it, a typical Saturday. The folks running the place were nice, and helpful, and there was a lot of upbeat talking and trawling going on in the shop. New stock streams into the racks fairly constantly. It’s a fun environment.
Aside from the ogling (and the purchase of a number of choice items), the other point of my trip was to get the skinny on the Record Store Day preparations from Jonathan Lambert, the store’s General Manager. Turns out that not only is this a big week for Prex because of Record Store Day, but they’re also kicking off a week-long 30th Anniversary celebration on Saturday. There will be live music (in Hines Plaza, a block from the store), raffles, freebies, and, of course, a huge amount of limited edition merchandise.
The raffles are pretty amazing, starting with T-shirts and gift cards, and culminating in prizes like a USB turntable and a grand prize of BOTH the Beatles stereo and mono box sets. The free raffle tickets will be available at the library concert and at the store throughout the week. There’s going to be Prex 30th anniversary stickers and even temporary tattoos too.
And then there’s Saturday’s main attraction: the over 150 limited edition titles released on Record Store Day, including 7″ singles from Elvis Costello (on Hip-O), Elvis Presley (on Legacy/Sun), John Lennon (on Capitol) and Peter Gabriel (one on Realworld b/w Stephen Merritt, the other on Jagjaguwar b/w Bon Iver), a 4 LP vinyl reissue Wilco box set from Nonesuch, and lots more. (You can check out the complete-for-now-but-still-growing list here: Record Store Day Special Releases.)
Jonathan said that he feels good about the diversity of titles and quantity of stock they’ve been receiving, and hopes that Prex will be able to meet customer demand for the limited edition items. But, considering how busy Prex is on a normal Saturday, I’d say you’ll definitely want to get there early if you have your eye on any of those special items!
Visit Princeton Record Exchange on the web: www.prex.com