KEXP is holding its first-ever Record Fair, this Saturday, October 22 from 10 am-8pm at the radio station's Seattle Center gathering space. The free, all-ages fair is happening in conjunction with Easy Street Records and Chicago reissue label extraordinaire Numero Group. In addition to those august music peddlers, the fair will feature eight other music retailers (
Daybreak, Sonic Boom, Silver Platters, Portland's Musique Plastique, Georgetown, Road Trip, Mezzanine, Bluebelle), four labels (Light in the Attic, Sub Pop, Hardly Art, and Freakout), and four private dealers selling their goods. DJs will be spinning records all day, too. A few tables are still available for the fair. If you're interested, contact Matt Vaughan at email@example.com, posthaste.
The day before the big fair, Numero Group—which can be viewed as the Light in the Attic of the Midwest; its releases span several genres, its packaging is impeccable, and its curation is typically brilliant—will have a pop-up shop in KEXP's gathering space from 12 pm-6 pm (again, free and all ages). It's part of the label's nationwide pop-up shop tour, which, co-owner Ken Shipley told me in a phone interview, have "wildly exceeded expectations."
According to Shipley, one reason Numero Group's pop-ups have done well is that some of the company's product can be difficult to find in record stores. They just can't stock 'em all. "[W]e have such a rabid following that there are people who want to own a lot more Numero and have no other way than buying from our website, of connecting, and seeing all this stuff in one place. And when you put it all out there for people to get into, it's much more enticing when people realize how much bigger [the selection] is."
If you're looking for Numero recommendations, I would suggest titles by Joanna Brouck, Iasos, Pisces, Jordan De La Sierra, Master Wilburn Burchette, the Unwound boxed set, and the Good God! gospel-funk compilations. Tip of the iceberg, but those will get you started on the right foot.
Shipley and his two-person crew started their trip with 5,000 records and will bring about 3,500 to Seattle. They'll have about 90 percent of the Numero catalog for sale. "There'll be titles you've never seen before," Shipley promises.
As far as business in general for Numero, Shipley admits that physical product sales have been diminishing, but digital business has increased significantly, as has its synchronization activity. "We're certainly not shrinking, but the business is definitely changing," Shipley says. "We're having to evolve. A lot of this tour's about the evolution of the label. Retail is changing, the way people consume is changing, but there's still a want for having a physical copy of things by some people. If you can reach them, whether by having a greater web presence or doing something like this tour, you can still sell records in an unconventional way on a very conventional format."