Photo: Trent Johnson

Record Store Day 2017: David Schlank of CD Cellar

In a large room in the City of Falls Church, records line the walls in giant rows, acting as a candy store for audiophiles in search of the best vinyl finds. Like most other folks in the vinyl business, CD Cellar’s David Schlank is prepping for a chaotic Record Store Day tomorrow. We had the chance to catch up with him recently about his shop and all things vinyl.

On Tap: What were you doing before CD Cellar?
David Schlank: Before I started working part-time at CD Cellar, I was a college student at George Mason University. I hated it. I did, however, love working at the radio station WGMU, which is where I met Chris Elles, who got me the gig at CD Cellar. He was working part-time at CD Cellar, also going to GMU and working at the radio station as music director. I later became metal director and RPM (techno/dance) director.

OT: How did your relationship with vinyl develop?
DS: My relationship with vinyl started as a child, sampling my parents’ record collection (when I was allowed). However, I was more than happy to switch to cassettes (I preferred my boombox and my Walkman), because I liked to take my tunes on the go. I had a turntable in high school, but preferred my cassettes and later, CDs. But really, it’s the music, not the format. I’m into MUSIC.

OT: What’s CD Cellar’s vibe?
DS: I’m not sure my shop has much of a vibe. The decor has always reflected the moods and personalities of the folks working there. If you look at old pics of my shop, back when I was young, the walls and ceiling were covered with posters and ephemera. It was very chaotic, but amusing. Now, we try to keep it streamlined and tight. But it’s still a mess, and my customers don’t care.

OT: Do you host any events at the store, or partner with other stores/venues on anything vinyl-related?
DS: We were doing a “first Saturday” where we partnered with Capitol Audio Fest and showcased independent, high-end stereo gear companies. We’d let them set up their gear and play music that sounded the best on their systems. We used to host shows at our Clarendon location. We had a lot of great bands from all over the county play their first shows there.

OT: Why is vinyl still relevant?
DS: I really don’t know why it’s relevant. It would be one thing if folks were only buying clean, new, quality pressings and listening to them on high-end stereos, but they aren’t. Many of them are buying old pressings and listening to them on sh-tty little home stereos, so it’s not like they’re getting this unique, refined experience that’s better than MP3s. It’s just a new experience, a trendy experience, a very popular trend. Sh-t, at least five new shops have opened in the [DMV] in the last five years.

OT: Is your store participating in Record Store Day? If so, what do you have planned?
DS: I think this is our eighth year participating in RSD. We do the April and November editions. It’s a stressful time, but it’s worth it. We usually just stock all the important titles, set up a little area with coffee and pastries, and let the customers go crazy. If we ever get our sh-t together, maybe we’ll even have a band play and get a local brewery to sponsor us. Free beer!

CD Cellar: 105 Park Ave. Falls Church, VA; 703-534-6318; www.cdcellarva.com