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Thursday June 1st

Longtime record-seller Gerry Williams hosts biannual record show in Carrboro

Residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro shop at the Carrboro Record and CD Show in Carrboro, N.C. on Nov. 6, 2022.
Buy Photos Residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro shop at the Carrboro Record and CD Show in Carrboro, N.C. on Nov. 6, 2022.

Gerry Williams has been selling records for 45 years. He's hosted record shows in Carrboro for the last 18. 

Williams held his most recent record show on Sunday at the Carrboro Century Center. Since 2004, the November event has been one of Williams' two annual shows sponsored by the Town of Carrboro. 

"Back in 2004, there wasn't a show like this in the Triangle and I thought, 'Let's do one here,' or if I could get the Town to sponsor it for me," Williams said.

Williams said he began his career selling records in 1977 when he opened a store in Washington, D.C., which he said featured 200,000 records, mostly used. 

These days, Williams said he does not own any brick-and-mortar record stores. He said all of his business is either online or through record shows, some of which he hosts. 

He said the Town of Carrboro gives him the space in the Century Center for free for his events, assists in promotion and even pays him to host. 

These shows are an opportunity for people to buy and sell records, CDs and music memorabilia, Williams said. 

Neill McCormick is one such vendor. He sells rock, jazz, funk, punk, rhythm and blues records. When he attends record shows, he said he loves talking to people about what kind of music they like most.

"I just sold a 16-year-old a Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and an Aretha Franklin album," McCormick said. "So it's interesting to see the stuff that I listened to growing up that people are still listening to and still find very vital." 

Another seller is Charlotte-based record dealer Greg Neal, who said he is good friends with Williams. Although his personal favorite records are hits from the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Neal said he brings anything that sells to record shows.

"I try to bring a good variety because with the college crowd, you can always sell things that you might not sell at other shows — like classical records or exotic or jazz or something," Neal said.

Williams said overall, classic rock music has always been popular. However, he said he notices an increased interest in reggae and blues records. Personally, Williams said he enjoys listening to almost all types of records.

"Except for rap and opera, I listen to everything else from classical to country, rock, jazz, everything," Williams said.

Raleigh record collector David Haygood, who was at the show to add to his collection, said he prefers rock music, including U2, Queen and Elvis Presley.

Haygood added that he has been collecting records for 50 years and enjoys coming to Williams's show.

"It's close to home and it brings in some different vendors from Raleigh," Haygood said.

For Hillsborough high school student Vivian Carey, the show's biggest draws were its reasonable prices and the ease with which she could talk directly with the owners of records. 

She said it was her first time attending a record show hosted by Williams. She added that she came because an owner of a record store near her home recommended Williams's show.

"I asked the guy, 'Where's a good place to find some more diverse options?'" Carey said. "He said I should come check this out."

Williams said that over the past several years, he has noticed more women and young people becoming interested in collecting records.

"When we started this in 2004, it was mostly a lot of old guys like myself buying them," he said. "And there was the occasional young guy — a college student, mostly male."

In contrast, Williams said there are almost an equal number of men and women at his record shows today, including at the show on Sunday.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused Williams to cancel three of his previous shows, he said attendance has been high at his most recent events.

His next record show at the Carrboro Century Center will be on April 2.

@DTHCityState | 

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