Record Store Day came and went. Chances are you bought some exclusive releases. Chances are you missed out on some exclusive releases, too. It happens. There’s a special time of year for record collectors and vinyl lovers that happens shortly after RSD, though, and while it does bring out cartons of equally exclusive records, it doesn’t do so with the hefty price tag.
We’re talking about Numero Factory Outlet. Once a year, the fine folks at Numero Group—an archival record label founded in 2003 in Chicago—pack up boxes of their releases, push them onto a truck, and hit the road to open pop-up stores across a small section of the country. The traveling roadshow brings blowout-priced Numero LPs, CDs, 45s, T-shirts, tapes, books, and other miscellaneous goodies that our local record stores don’t carry. On Sunday the 30th, it opens shop at Lilypad Inman in Cambridge from 10 am to 5 pm. That’s six hours of crate digging and snagging incredible deals.
While this sounds exciting in theory, those unfamiliar with the label may not feel inclined to spend the last Sunday of April holed up in a dusty pop-up store. Trust us when we say the hard work of co-founders Rob Sevier and Ken Shipley is worth your time. They created Numero Group as a way to save sounds and stories, ephemera of the every day that gets lost in the constant shuffle forward of today’s music industry. There’s under-heard recordings that fail to get the word of mouth they deserve. There’s cult favorites that can’t afford investors to widen their release. By partnering with the musicians, writers, and entrepreneurs who created these records, Numero Group strives to push these reissues into the spotlight they deserve, often decades after their release.
“When we did an Eccentric Soul Revue tour back in 2009, we brought all of our releases along and set up merch booths that were akin to a pop-up shop. We had a way fewer releases then, but it was the genesis of this tour,” says Sevier. “A typical pop-up looks like all of our releases spread out across five 10-foot tables, lots of heads furiously digging through bins of our LPs, and the label’s founders available to answer questions about any bit of minutia about the releases.”
If you’re mapping out the route in your head and realize Boston is the second-to-last stop, don’t jump to conclusions. They save a set number of records per stop, meaning our city won’t be shafted of some exclusive deals.
“I think these pop-up shops are often about the less popular records,” Sevier adds. “We made a few fun mix cassettes that are exclusive to the tour, and there are loads of things that are ‘website only’ that aren’t in any stores (but we have with us.) But the most exciting things to sell, really, are the gems in our catalog that simply haven’t caught on with our followers.”
To get a better understanding of how their catalog works, examine the numbering system. It’s broken down into series. First comes Eccentric Soul, its flagship series documenting mishandled soul labels from the Midwest. Then there’s Wayfaring Strangers compiling wandering folk fellows, Cult Cargo delivering the sonic shores of tiny islands, and Good God! titles delivering spiritual audio reels. However, our favorite is the 200 line, an exploration of ’80s and ’90s deities by Unwound, Hüsker Dü, White Zombie, Blonde Redhead, and more.
There’s something for everyone in Numero Group’s catalog, and it’s a record you will clutch to your chest, in love, for years to come. Go for a Wilburn Burchette LP, or maybe an Otis T Johnson record, or perhaps a Capsoul Group CD. The sky’s the limit at a Numero Group factory outlet. Our advice? Ask not how many records you can buy without hitting the sky, but how many records you can carry without dropping them on the way to your car. Better yet, ask who you will be battling it out with to find the record you want.
“There’s been some celebrity appearances,” says Sevier. “Ian MacKaye from Fugazi was at our DC pop-up. That would be like if Roger Clemens shows up at our Boston pop-up. We do expect Mark Wahlberg and at least one member of the Dropkick Murphys.”
NUMERO FACTORY OUTLET. SUN 4.30. LILYPAD INMAN, 1353 CAMBRIDGE ST., CAMBRIDGE. 10AM/ALL AGES/FREE. NUMEROGROUP.COM