What We Loved About Record Stores Back In The Day

By | April 16, 2019

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Left: Shop founder Geoff Travis in the Rough Trade Shop, London, circa 1977. Source: (Photo by Estate Of Keith Morris/Redferns/Getty Images) Right: browsing in a record store. Source: (Wikimedia Commons)

Are we witnessing the death of the record store? Disappearing, sure -- there are certainly fewer local record stores than there once were. And that's a loss -- the independent mom-and-pop record store was once a gathering place, where music sages and enthusiastic newbies could converse and convince; knowledge about musical careers and legendary vinyl was handed down in record shops. Record stores aren't dead, and with new interest in vinyl LPs and 45s there's some hope that they will survive. But we can all name some great old shops we used to frequent that have ceased to exist, can't we?

Cast yourself back: Jangly guitars play over an immaculate stereo system, the smell of coffee and cardboard sleeves, a sneering shop owner who eyes you suspiciously even if it’s the hundredth time you’ve walked into his shop, even as the clerks seem friendly. (The owner was always kind of a jerk, wasn't he?) The familiar feel of the record store is all but gone these days. While there are still brick and mortar record stores around the country -- just 1000 are left, according to Forbes -- sales of new and used vinyl have been rising steadily. A lot of buyers or collectors of vinyl do their shopping online, through auction sites and discogs.com.

Whether you liked shopping for new music, or you liked to peruse the used music section, there’s a welcoming feel to the opening arms of a record store. If you spent your teenage years combing through bins of vinyl LPs (or maybe scanning the racks of cassettes) then you know the allure of the record store. 

The Tactile Experience Of Holding An Album Can’t Be Replicated

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Source: (Pinterest)

You hold the LP in your hands – maybe the cover art is coarse with wear or it’s slick, having just come out of the shrink wrap. It’s not exactly heavy, but there’s a heft to it. When you’re holding an album you can actually feel the music in your hands. Rather than clicking a link, taking a trip to a record store gave you the opportunity, or maybe just the excuse, to flip through hundreds of albums in search of something that spoke to you.

Even if you didn’t know a band’s music, one seductive cover was all it took to turn you into a lifelong fan, or maybe even full you with lifelong regret for spending your hard earned cash on a Herman’s Hermits record.