Hidden down in a convention hall of a nondescript hotel off the highway north of Denver was a record lover's paradise this weekend: the Denver Record Collectors Spring Expo.
At the convention hall all day Sunday were dozens of vendors, each selling thousands of records, CDs and more. This wasn't just a place to stop by and grab another copy of Sgt. Peppers you lost in that last move -- there were 45s from the 1950s, a sealed Lenny Bruce record, the Ben Hur soundtrack on CD, a VHS copy of High Fidelity next to an old book on the Clash, racks of Paul McCartney and Velvet Underground shirts, posters from Modest Mouse's last show in Broomfield, and more from enthusiastic vendors ready to sell to equally enthusiastic buyers.
Some vendors were representatives of brick-and-mortar stores around the area, others, like Cathy Howell, have been doing this solo for the past 25 years.
"There's been a huge crowd today," Howell says. "They were lined up before the doors even opened."
With a spring storm pounding Denver, attendance might have dipped. But just an hour before the Expo was supposed to wrap up, the hall was so packed that it was hard to navigate the aisles or linger near a box of records without being in someone's way.
It's been real fun," Howell says between questions from potential buyers. "And really busy."
Howell, after closing her own record store in the mid-90s, decided to become a record hunter, which one of the coolest sounding job titles ever. She goes around to expos like the ones she's selling at, as well as many many record stores searching for the great and obscure. What she was selling this weekend was a mix of her very large personal collection as well as finds she has procured since the fall expo. She, like the other vendors, was certainly doing well, with a large crowd constantly browsing and inquiring about different records.
Wandering through the hall, hearing old people argue about whether Jefferson Airplane was "edgy" while old concert footage of Metallica played above them and they sold last 70s jazz LPs, it was clear this is the kind of place where music's past comes alive. Whether or not you collect records, getting to be physically in touch with so much music you love is any music nerd's heaven. And there wasn't anyone there Sunday who wasn't smiling.
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