The atmosphere in the Carrboro Century Center on Sunday, Nov. 2, can only be described as “good vibrations.”
During the 19th Carrboro CD and Record Show from noon until 6 p.m., guests rummaged through thousands of recordings of all genres, from The Beatles and Nirvana to more obscure bands and musicians such as The Misunderstood.
Gerry Williams, the founder and organizer of the Carrboro CD and Record Show, has always had a love for music. In 1977, Gerry Williams opened a record shop called Orpheus Records in Washington, D.C., which he ran until his wife was hired by UNC-Chapel Hill in 1995. He then opened a small record store called Roots CDs and Vinyl for four years in his hometown of Carrboro. A few years later, the CD and Record Show was born.
Ever since Gerry Williams started the Carrboro CD and Record Show, an event sponsored by the town of Carrboro, its popularity has increased.
“The first couple of years we just did one a year,” Gerry Williams says. “It was so popular that the dealers talked me into doing two a year.”
The show usually occurs on the first Sunday in November and the first Sunday in April. With 40 tables and about 35 vendors, the demand is, in fact, much greater, Gerry Williams says.
“I actually have more people that want to be vendors than I’ve got space for,” he says.
On July 1, Gerry Williams and his wife moved to Columbia, S.C., for employment reasons. However, this didn’t stop Gerry Williams. He organized the event from South Carolina and drove four hours just to be a part of it all. Gerry Williams is commissioned by the town of Carrboro to run the event until 2019.
“The distance doesn’t bother me,” he says. “I love doing it, and it’s a great way to for people to experience Carrboro.”
When asked if he would be a part of the show after 2019, Gerry Williams says it was up in the air.
“I’m 63 years old!” he says with a chuckle. “I don’t know. I might be in an old folks’ home by then, but I’ll do this if I have to come in a wheelchair to do it. So we’ll see, but it’s a long way off.”
Vendors from across country also share Gerry Williams’ passion for buying and selling records.
Craig Williams, no relation to Gerry Williams and a vendor from Richmond, Va., who has come to the Carrboro show for years, says that it’s not about the money for him.
“I do this because I like to teach music a lot and to spread it around,” he says. “It’s enjoyment. I’ve really gotten big kick out of this.”
Buying, selling and collecting records for about for about 35 years, Craig Williams has traveled to shows across the country, from New York to Ohio. A lot of vendors that he comes across make thousands of dollars per show, he says.
“Most people do it as a business, but I do it as a hobby,” Craig Williams says. “You can make $50 or you can $1,500. It depends on who comes in and what kind of records you have.”
How is selling records such a lucrative business in today’s digital world?
Gerry Williams explains that vinyl sales are climbing. Sales from online downloads, CDs and other music formats are down. The only format that has increased over the last 10 years is vinyl sales, he says.
“They’re making more records now than they did five or 10 years ago, and it’s not just reissues of old material,” Gerry Williams says. “Lots of new bands do vinyl, and it’s hip for a lot of indie bands to put out a vinyl release before their CD and then do their CD release.”
Although some people like the convenience of CDs, a lot of people also like the sound quality of records better, Gerry Williams says. He personally likes that records have bigger artwork and lettering.
“Some of these things I can’t read without a magnifying glass!” Gerry Williams jokes as he points to the tiny words on a CD case.
Tiffany Reese, 20, a student from East Carolina University, is new to the vinyl scene.
Her boyfriend’s grandfather was a gospel singer, and Reese became impressed with “older music” and the sound quality of records.
Over the past year, she has attended record shows across the state in Raleigh, Greenville and Jacksonville but liked the Carrboro show the best.
“The Greenville one is much smaller,” Reese says, adding that the Carrboro event has more tables and more friendly vendors.
Reese says that she will be back, both because of the wide selection of records and to learn from others.
“I think it’s important just to know and realize where all this music came from — all the generations before us,” she says.
The sound quality, artistic design and nostalgia are a draw for some people, but for Craig Williams it is also about having something tangible, something real. A record, he says, is unlike anything else.
“Look at this, just look at this,” Craig Williams says, beaming as he holds up one of his records. “To hold this in your hands is just awesome. There’s nothing like it.”