Last weekend’s Top 5 Record Event (which I hope to recap this weekend) lead me to Ricky, pictured here, and his cool Shinjuku Shop, Anchor Records. I was on a hunt for a particular record at a particular price, that I wanted to add to my Top 5 List, and was scouring the web when I finally found the record at the price on Anchor’s website. I had never heard of Anchor but knew exactly where it was, next to a camera shop I used to visit all the time, like multiple times a week, on the northwest side of Shinjuku. I don’t think Anchor was there yet in those days, as it sounds like Ricky started the shop only after recently retiring from a long career working for Nintendo in video games. What a great retirement, open a record shop and sell all the records you spent your whole life collecting, meeting new people and their music-curious ears every day, talking music, and getting by.
Anyway, rather than order the record off the website, and thought I’d cruise by and check out the shop, which I did during business hours, only to find a sign on the door that said: “Closed, Appointment Only.” Confused, I looked up the number on the website, called it, Ricky answered, I explained about wanting a record I had seen on the website, and he said “Oh, Come on in!” which I did. Once Ricky sized me up, maybe it was my speaking Japanese, or 20-year local status, or the fact I was American (Ricky had lived many years in the States), or just the fact I had come for something specific, I put his no-appointment apprehensions ease, and next thing you know, we were quickly riffing and mixing it up, and I’d like to think becoming pals. Ricky was/is cool, laid back and friendly as can be, and turns out has an absolutely killer collection.
As we talked and talked and talked, while we both went digging through his records for the one I had come for, among so many stories of Tokyo record culture, life in America and beyond, Ricky explained to me that since Japan re-opened its door to tourists this year, his shop kept getting bombarded by overseas buyers who wanted to come in and, more-or-less, clean him out of his shop, wishing to buy anything and everything, some customer being quite rude, and even one shouting at him for not willing to sell the customer all the records he wanted or at the prices he wanted. In all my years of record-collecting in Tokyo, or anywhere for that matter, I’ve never seen anybody angrily shout in a record store. Ricky explained that this kind of indiscriminate pillaging and profiteering by buyers and flippers is not sustainable and not what record/music loving is all about, and I totally agree with him. Sidenote: The same week I met Ricky, I was contacted by a magazine editor to ask my opinion about my favorite record shops. While I’m super supportive of indie shops like Anchor Records, I was more compelled to share with the editor a list of Tokyo record-shop buying rules, starting with 1. “No Shouting (read: ‘Don’t be a dick!’)”, followed by 2. “Remember, this should be about loving music, not about hoarding stuff.” and #3 “More water in the harbor floats all the boats” (that applies to a lot of things. Let’s discuss in person.)
Well, I had only intended to pop into Anchor Records to pick up the one record I intended to play at Top 5, but after an hour of talking and digging, haha, we never ended up finding it. Ricky must have sold it or lost it in his collection. As a gesture of kindness, he gifted me another record in the same vein as the one I was looking for, for an honorable mention, another in-all-my-years first. Wow!
Thanks, Ricky for your warmth and kindness (and for the other gifts too!) I can’t wait to visit Anchor Records again. I’ll call head next time! Until then…
More Tokyo Records Style on the way!
Magical Space Ship – Superman / Silver Space Ship
Label: Overseas Records – MA-151-V
Format: Vinyl, 7″
Genre: Electronic, Funk / Soul
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