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Black Plastic closes Oxford location, leaving collectors without a record store

Black Plastic abruptly closed its Oxford location in the fall, leaving a record-shaped hole in students' hearts.
Black Plastic abruptly closed its Oxford location in the fall, leaving a record-shaped hole in students' hearts.

Toward the end of the fall semester, record collectors were in for a shock when they made their way Uptown and discovered that Black Plastic, the record store in Oxford, had closed its doors.

After opening in late 2022, the record store was only open for about a year before its closure.

Black Plastic sold a variety of records, with new releases from artists like Taylor Swift to older, used vinyl. On top of selling records, the store also held an early listening party for Mitski’s album “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We.”

Emma Schaefer, a first-year speech pathology and audiology major, attended this listening party.

“It was fun. They gave us posters and wristbands and stuff for her new album,” Schaefer said. “We went and they played the record over the whole store.”

Despite having never purchased from Black Plastic directly, Schaefer has collected records since she was in eighth grade.

“I really like music, and I like having a physical copy,” Schaefer said. “I only get it for the albums that I really want.”

Some of Schaefer’s favorites in her collection are “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac, “Folklore” by Taylor Swift and “Rubber Soul” by the Beatles.

Schaefer wasn’t even aware that Black Plastic had closed and was disappointed when she found out through a group chat.

“I feel like a lot of kids listen to music and lots of people collect records now. I feel like it’s coming back,” Schaefer said. “So I think it’s important to have a place where people who like music can go and hang out and meet each other and buy records.”

Schaefer believes that streaming services like Spotify may negatively impact stores like Black Plastic that sell physical media because once the subscription is paid for, users have access to all of these albums for free.

Ellie Irish, a sophomore majoring in emerging technology in business and design, has been collecting records since her first year of high school when she received a record player for Christmas.

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Irish collects records for a similar reason as Schaefer — the excitement of actually owning a physical copy of the album.

“I’m such a big music person,” Irish said. “I feel like there’s just something really special about getting your own pressing of some of your favorite songs and knowing that you don’t need the internet or rely on Spotify to listen to music.”

On top of owning a vinyl pressing, Irish likes being able to reflect and enjoys the nostalgia of it all as well.

“It’s kind of nostalgic to go through the years and [see] how my music taste has grown,” Irish said. “Having a physical remembrance of it is just really special to me.”

Irish has bought around three or four records from Black Plastic and frequently visited the store with her dad.

She enjoyed going in and visiting with the owner, Steve Schmoll, as he understood his audience well and appreciated the community that Black Plastic provided.

“I definitely think it’s important for any town to have a record store. I feel like there’s just a sense of community that it brings, especially because there’s not a lot of ways for people to come together through music,” Irish said. “It’s really important for anyone to just be able to browse through music, vinyl and reflect on those.”

Irish was devastated by Black Plastic closing.

“It’s just sad. I wish there was more that we could have done,” Irish said. “I don’t know if there was even anything we could have done, but I feel like it was such a good place to collect vinyl. I feel like the selection was always so good — a little something for everyone. It definitely will be missed.”