Remember all those music collections where the announcer would say “So you Don’t forget, mail before midnight tomorrow!” at the end? Well a lot of these fall into that category! Once again from the marvelous archives from FredFlix over at YouTube – his collection is awesome and mindblowing, and this is no exception!
Waaaay back in September 2016, during our annual vacation on Cape Cod, we took a trip out to Orleans to visit what’s touted on their Facebook page as the “largest independent book and music store on Cape Cod”. It was quite a ride on the bus – nearly 2.5 hours from Hyannis because of the constant stops – but we finally made it to BookSmith MusicSmith.
Nestled away in the Orleans Marketplace (which looks a lot larger and less a strip mall when looking at their website), this homey little store was one of those delights you have to search out on your travels.
I had a nice discussion with the clerk on duty (I’m terribly sorry, but I didn’t get his name) and he told me that the store had originally been part of the BookSmith chain in MA (the only one left is Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner), and when the original owners sold off the store, they had elected to keep the name. He also generously said we could snap a few photos of the place as well…here’s the sign out in front of the shopping plaza…
Here’s the entrance…that’s Kim coming out the door…
They have a great little room devoted to used vinyl and cassettes…oh MAN I could have spent all day in here…they had a TON of 45s…
Their main floor is also quite impressive…great selection of CDs to choose from…
and the bookstore section was pretty good too…excuse my fat finger on the lens, please…
All in all, it was a fun trip out there – although it took a while to get out to Orleans, which is about 3/5ths of the way out to the outer edge of the Cape, the trip down was beautiful. The roads are surrounded with trees and fields, with a few houses and businesses dotted along the way. The trip back was also nice, but we had to wait in the hot sun for about 30 minutes to catch the bus home – unfortunately there were no trees in the immediate area. We also found another independent record store across the street from the shopping center, a place called “Instant Karma” but alas we didn’t get a chance to go in and peruse a bit…we’ll have to do that another time.
Thanks to BookSmith MusicSmith for agreeing to let us feature you – we loved the store, which is a vital link for music and books in the outer Cape! You can also check out their Facebook here!
We’ve spent the past week vacationing on Cape Cod, and yesterday, I finally found the time to drop by Spinnaker CD, an independent record store in Hyannis. I first fell for the store when we first visited it two years ago; it’s an “old school” record store, with half the music area filled with vinyl, the other half with CDs. And I wish I had the time and money to spend a whole day perusing the incredible amount of stock they have. Because we’re on vacation, I didn’t have time to actually pick up any music, although I did pick up the latest season of “Supernatural” on DVD for Kim, and some newly issued collector figures from the classic 1985 film “The Karate Kid“. But I asked if we could feature them, and they said “Sure!”
When you first walk in, there is a huge area with tee shirts, and posters, and the long checkout counter, and a wall of DVDs. The tee shirt selection, as you can see in the shot on the right, is HUGE, and the posters, which are out of the shot, are in a large bin to the left and behind the picture. There’s also used CD’s along the leftmost wall running the length of the room divider. The photo is standing with the door to my right in back of me. Turn to your left from the photo above, and you enter Spinnaker’s main music area. And it’s a GLORIOUS sight. I could (and plan to someday) spend HOURS in this place going through boxes and boxes of 45s that are under the two left most bins – it is a treasure trove filled with literally THOUSANDS of old 45s waiting to be mined for that one streak of gold. As you enter the second room, on your left is a selection of turntables, most of them manufactured with the annual Record Store Day in mind. Almost all of them have a USB port cable, to make it easier to digitize your vinyl collection. And to the right of the door is the CD area, filled with current cds, all stored in longbox-style anti-theft devices to fit the LP racks. And still more teeshirts are hung above as well. In the distance, along the back wall, are several racks holding posters.
And then on the other side in the far aisle….oh glory be!…there’s a FULL WALL of nothing but vinyl, mostly old but some new, and a rack on the front wall with new vinyl singles, most of them look to be imported. And some on the inside of the aisle as well. This is where I take one exception with the store – they’ve used cut down old 45s as dividers, attaching them to the plastic dividers to divide the sale vinyl by letter. I HATE it when stores use old records like this…but admittedly I checked the titles on some of them and I doubt anyone would actually be looking for them…but you never know…naughty Spinnaker…heh heh…I have to admit, though, it does make a very cool looking display; didn’t think to get a shot of it, and didn’t want to get greedy with photos, either…they were generous enough to let me take a few photos and I didn’t want to overdo things. I also didn’t get much of the vinyl display on the above shot, sorry…
As I noted above, I could easily spend HOURS, possibly even DAYS perusing the box after box of 45s they have stashed under both sides of the far aisle. I love albums, but I’ve always been partial to 45s and this place…well, it’s like catnip to me. I’ve decided that sometime next spring, when I can save up some money and find a day when I can make the 90 minute bus trip up and back from South Station in Boston and have no other luggage to bring, I’m going to come down and spend the entire day mining this store for some gold.
Thank you to the staff at Spinnaker CD for generously allowing me to chat with them for a moment and grab some quick photos; maybe when I go down for my exclusive shopping trip, I can take a few more…
If you want to check it out, Spinnaker CD is at 596 Main Street in Hyannis MA; their bag says they do “new and used CDs – DVDs and Vinyl – Tee Shirts – Posters and Pop Culture” and I can attest to all of those…can’t wait to come back again…:-)
I’ve always loved buying records. My record collection is large (though not as large as some, I’m sure), and about 80 percent of it were purchased at regular prices. But I’d say a good 10-12% of it came from cut-out bins.
According to the Wikipedia entry, “In the recording industry, a cut-out refers to a deeply discounted or remaindered copy of an LP, 45 RPM single, cassette tape, Compact Disc, or other item.” Yes, you can still occasionally find cut-outs of CD’s or DVD’s, but most of the time, you’re more likely to find used copies than actual cut-outs. Cut-outs are easy to spot – they have a notch or a hole…um, well, literally cut out of the packaging, whether it’s an album or CD case, or a drill hole through the label part of a 45 or a cassette case.
When I was a kid, Ben Franklin in Utica used to sell 99-cent packs of cut-out 45s – they came sealed in a plastic bag, and were on the top hooks of the record rack at the store, with a paper seal proclaiming “SIX 45s for JUST 99 cents!” or something like that – this is when the average price of a current 45 was 69 cents. I bought a lot of these as a kid, when my allowance was a mere $1 a week. And occasionally, if I was exceptionally good in school or doing my chores, or had been sick, my mom or step-dad would get me one too.
Now, don’t get me wrong – you rarely (ok, almost NEVER) found actual big hits in these bargain bags, being as they were sealed and you couldn’t check out what you were buying, but I found my share of little gems, and a few little hits too. Racking my mind right now, nearly a half-century later, only one title jumps out at me that I got from these bags, a song called “Off And Running” by The Mindbenders – it was on Fontana Records and was part of the “To Sir With Love” soundtrack; the band had appeared in the film as well. Played that song to death I loved it so much. And it had been the “flip side” of an actual minor hit, “It’s Getting Harder All The Time“. For the record, we’ll have a look at “flip-side” another time.
As I got older, and as the 1970s turned into the 1980s and the record industry started to become the bloated, greedy, and corrupt industry it is now (IMHO, of course, heh heh), the various labels would press millions of copies of albums and ship them out proclaiming they were “platinum” (for an album, that’s 1 Million copies) on release. The RIAA would give them their Platinum award, only to have hundreds of thousands of copies shipped back unsold. The labels would take their loss on paper and dump them in the cutout bin. Good for the labels – tax writeoff – and good for the consumers – cheap albums. My mother freaked out one day when I spent almost $150 of holiday gift money on records, most of them from the cut-out bins. Were they all good albums? Well, no. But when you could grab the soundtracks from bad films like “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Thank God It’s Friday” for $3 a pop, when they originally sold for between $15-$20 a couple years earlier, they were worth having to me…now. Hey, I’d always wanted both of them anyway…and yes, I can be a musical masochist, ask my wife…heh heh…
Cut-out bins were also the place for discoveries. For every clunker album or CD I’ve paid a buck or two for in a cut out bin, I usually found five or six that were really really good. This was especially true when CD’s began popping up in the bins, for $2-3 bucks each – I still treasure CD’s I found in the bins in the late 80s-early 90s by Truth Inc., Natasha’s Brother, Latitude, Judson Spence, and of course, New Monkees (about which I will point out two things – 1, I already had the LP of it, and 2, even though the show was one of the worst TV shows ever, the music was really well done. So There!), among many many others.
But in the summer of either 1985 or 1986, can’t remember which, I hit the MOTHERLODE. Really.
I was living in Lancaster, Ohio, and the discount chain Hecks opened a new store out in the boonies end of town, right next door to Lancaster Cinema on Sheridan Drive. It was a 10 minute walk from our apartment, and they had everything. But mostly, they had the all time best cut out bin EVER!!!
My mom and I walked down opening weekend, and the place was mobbed. And tucked away in the front left corner of the store was a small electronics and music section. And the centerpiece of this section was a gigantic bin of cutouts. And these weren’t just no-sale albums by unknown artists, either – although most of them were at least five to ten years old at the time, most of them were legitimate minor hit albums a few years earlier. And from opening day until they got rid of most of them, they were selling for just TEN CENTS EACH! And they were all still factory-sealed – no used copies or returns here. I had taken a vinyl overdose…I was on a cut-out HIGH!!!
Here and there over the next two weeks, I plunked down about $20 and added nearly TWO HUNDRED albums (yes, you read that right) to my collection, including the entire collection of mostly critically-acclaimed Raspberries (“Go All The Way“) albums (including their debut album, the one with the scratch and sniff sticker that amazingly still worked, and which thirty years later still has a hint of the scent in the album cover), most of singer-songwriter Henry Gross‘ (“Shannon“) output from the mid 70s, most of Paul Davis‘ (“I Go Crazy“) earlier albums, and a TON of other gems. The Raspberries albums – those were manna from heaven to me; I already had all but one of Eric Carmen‘s later (and usually marvelous) solo albums (most of which had also been purchased in cutout bins over the years – what a sad statement THAT is…), as I was a huge fan of his songwriting and his wondrous voice (is there anyone out there who doesn’t get chills from the piano-only version of “Boats Against The Current” once they’ve heard it? I should think not…), and when I had gone back to try and find the band’s albums, they were out of print and used copies were selling for way too much money for the teenager I was at the the time.
Two months after they opened, with the initial allotment of cutouts all but gone or down to a few, they restocked, this time with stuff that was more recent, and they raised the price up to 50 cents each, but I still plunked down a bit of my hard earned cash for more great cutouts from Deodato, Peter Frampton, and a ton of others. Within a 90 day span that summer, I added almost 300 albums to my collection, and did so for under a total of $100 bucks…probably less than $50, actually, all things considered.
And the fact that at the time, I was working for the only record store in town – well, they got my money for the current stuff…the supposed irony was lost on me. Not that I didn’t spend money on cut outs at work…a year or so before I became an employee, they had a cutout sale and I spent about $50 on early, unsuccessful albums by Stacy Lattisaw, Roger Voudouris, and others at $3.99 a pop. But they were worth it.
Tapes are another matter. I’ve never been fond of cassettes. Kim is – most of her music collection is on cassette – but nearly 90% of my sizable collection of full album cassettes (as opposed to cassette singles, a different monster entirely, another topic for another day) came from the cutout bins. Tapes were just too easy to mess up, and I preferred making my own mix tapes from my records and CD’s rather than buy prerecorded ones. But there are a few gems. And the most valuable tape in my collection to me personally was found by chance one day in Lancaster when Woolworth‘s was still around. Again, I was working at the aforementioned record store (more about life at Buzzard’s Nest Records soon), and had walked up from the shopping center where it was to the one next door to get my haircut on my lunch hour, and on the way back, I noticed that Woolworth’s had a display with cassette cut outs, so I stopped in. And I may have let out a shriek when I saw one tape in particular, of an album from two or three years earlier that I had tried to special order at my place of employment only to be told it was out of print.
It was the debut album by singer Joseph Williams. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, you’re not a music buyer from the 1980s. The son of conductor John Williams, Joseph had finished in second or third place on the first season of Star Search, where he had been bested by singer Sam Harris. The solo album had been recorded right before that, and had bombed. At this point in time, he had recorded a song, “Save The Night“, for the soundtrack of the film “The Goonies“, and had just joined the Grammy-winning rock group Toto as their new lead singer. And I was a huge fan. I plunked my 99 cents on the Woolworth counter and headed right back to work with it. Let there be no mistake about it – it’s rather ordinary pop. But it’s GOOD pop, and I love the entire thing. And I would love to find a copy of the album on vinyl or CD because I haven’t yet digitized the tape and I worry about playing it sometimes because I’m afraid the cassette deck will eat it and it will be gone for good…I’m paranoid like that about cassettes, which is why I never got into them.
(Side Note – I just discovered while fact-checking during the writing of this blog piece that this prized possession has been re-released on CD – since 2002, OMG! – and I have just ordered it from Amazon.com. YAY! I won’t have to worry about the cassette any longer…PHEW!)
I don’t mind buying cut-out cassettes because you’re not spending much on them, and I’ve actually found a few things I never found on vinyl during their initial release on cassette in the cassette cut-out bins – like Jack Green‘s excellent 1980 album “Humanesque“, the self-titled debut album by Will And The Kill, Jesse Jaymes‘ “Thirty Footer In Your Face” featuring the inimitable single “Shake It (Like A White Girl)” and countless others. But I really DO need to digitize my collections soon – and Kim’s – because unlike vinyl and CD, cassettes tend to go bad after a few years. And unlike hits, you usually can never find cut-out bin gems again, except at a very high price on the secondary market.
Cut-out bins aren’t the only mecca for cheap fantastic music, though – promotional singles, albums, and CDs are good too…yet another great subject – we’ll talk about THAT mess another time…:-)
Rack Jobber: Wholesaler that provides racks of merchandise for retail locations and split the profits obtained from sales between the two parties.
Many of the smaller stores I frequented as a child and teenager had record bins serviced by “rack jobbers”. The store wanted to sell records but didn’t want the hassle of doing the ordering and inventory themselves, so they hired a third party vendor to do it.
When I was a grade schooler, we lived in the small berg of Utica, Ohio, population about 2000. It was situated at the intersection of US Route 62 and State Route 13, near the Licking/Knox county line, exactly 13 miles away from the two local mid-sized cities and county seats – Newark (county seat of Licking County) was 13 miles south, Mount Vernon (county seat of Knox county) 13 miles north. We were 33 miles east of Reynoldsburg and Whitehall, then the easternmost suburbs of Columbus, the state capital. Two places in Utica sold records: the local Ben Franklin store had a bin for a few albums and 45s; Ritchie’s Ice Cream Shop, which was a grungy but family friendly old-fashioned malt shop-type of place, had a few 45s and a selection of children’s’ records (yeah, I know…it’s weird). They even had old-fashioned “listening booths” in the back that had been closed and used for storage by 1970, so they obviously had at one time sold far more records than you would think.
When I was a teenager, home was Harrington, Washington, population 579 (it has since dropped below the 500 mark). No one in the town sold “real” records, though the drug store had a small selection of K-Tel compilation albums and a few 8-Track tapes (what’s THAT, daddy?) from about 1977 on. To get current stuff, you had to hit the small rack-jobber units at the drug store in Davenport (13 miles north…what is it with this 13 mile shit, anyway?) or one of the drug stores in Ritzville, 28 miles south.
And the Variety Mart. Ye gods, the Variety Mart.
The Variety Mart in Ritzville was this odd little store right downtown that sold…well, a variety of things, hence the term “variety store”. They were a “general store” type of place. Garden seeds? They had it. Lawn furniture? Sure, right out back. Knick knacks for your living room tableau? In the glass case over there. Toys for your tot? In the ‘toy city’ aisle. Ceramic garden gnomes? Try out with the lawn chairs. A hot plate? Definitely. over with the kitchen appliances.
And records. They had one small bin. But they kept it stocked with the latest singles and most of the current albums as well. It was right next to the checkout counter. And I gave them a lot of my record business – at least for 45s – from the time I was a freshman until junior year, after our car broke down.
But it wasn’t necessarily the selection at these two places that always intrigued me. It was the labeling.
Rack Jobbers usually put a cardboard or plastic divider behind each 45 with a name and artist so you knew what you were buying. And presumably so they could keep track of what they were putting in each store. But not all of them were perfect, and some of them obviously weren’t paying the closest of attention, leading to title cards like these (ALL of these were actual title cards, I SWEAR…complete with their goofs…and if you can’t figure these out, shame shame SHAME on you, heh heh):
“If I Were Your Wowman” by Gladys Night and the Pipes
“The Rapture” by Blondie (and conversely, “Blondie” by The Rapture)
“Samantha Sang” by The Emotions (more on this one in a mo…)
“Boogier Wonderland” by Earth Wine And Fire
“The Bells” By Stay Awhile
“Escape the Pina Colada” by Ruben Homes
I could go on and on but you get the idea, I’m sure… half the fun shopping these places was finding these gems. Even as a small budding record collector, I knew my stuff – and this kind of error, well it WAS sort of annoying as hell to me, your average 8 and 15 year old respectively.
But….They were also FUNNY AS HELL.
Sometimes it was made worse by the fact that the rack jobber had printed labels with mistakes on them, usually printed on the kind of label placed in jukeboxes of the day. Handwritten errors (“If I Were Your Wowman“) were forgivable, and probably only in that one location; printed ones, like “Samantha Sang” by The Emotions, were UNFORGIVABLE. Because it meant that the jobber had placed the same wrong pre-printed card in all of his accounts. I saw that one at Ritzville’s Variety Mart, and even in the large Pay N Save stores in two completely opposite locations – Spokane (where I usually shopped) and Bellevue (a suburb of Seattle where I was visiting my aunt).
Hey Mr. Rack Jobber…I know your job probably drives you nuts. But the song in question wasn’t some obscure title – it was a friggin’ top 5 hit written by Barry Gibb, for pete’s sake. And all over the radio, played so much I heard it at least 8-10 times a day. It was “Emotion” by Samantha Sang, not the other way around. For pete’s sake, PAY ATTENTION. Dumbass.
The job of the rack jobber these days is to keep places like your local CVS stocked in current cheap CD compilations and low priced hit DVDs. But back in the day, they helped supply me with some much needed music. And quite a few chuckles along the way…”Samantha Sang” by “The Emotions”….REALLY? Harf HARF HARF!!
In the mid-1970’s, downtown Spokane got a huge boost from the city playing host to the 1974 World’s Fair. They renovated quite a bit for this event, and when we moved back to Washington from Ohio, I saw that the dank, dingy downtown area had become a shopping mecca.
Before I found The Music Box (and after as well), my first stop whenever we’d hit “the big city”, was the circuit of mostly large department stores that were all interlinked by the city’s new “Skywalk” system – these were (mostly) enclosed bridges which connected most of the major stores on each end of the second floor. I”m not sure if I remember the correct order but I believe it went like this: the second mezzanine floor above Skaggs and Newberry’s connected to JC Penney; JC Penney connected to The Crescent; The Crescent connected to the second floor of the Washington Mutual bank building, which had been renovated into about a dozen small shops; WaMu originally connected to an outdoor skybridge which connected to the building that housed Pay N Save (not sure which building it was), and you went down the stairs on the one end by Pay N Save and across the street to the Bon Marche. Later on, in 1979-80, they extended the SkyWalk network, enclosing the bridge to Pay N Save, and the second floor of that building filled up with shops in an L Shape, and the next SkyWalk they installed went from the back end of that building into the building where The Music Box was.
Each of the major chain stores had a record department, though sometimes it was hard to find. Newberry’s, being an old-fashioned 5 & 10 store, had one small rack of albums and tapes, a few 45s, and that was it. I rarely wasted time here, as it was not likely I would find much different here than in other stores.
So most of the time, I started my trip on JC Penney’s first floor, where the record department was. It wasn’t large, but they had four long bins of albums and two racks of 45s, one current and one “oldies”. And occasionally you could find a gem or two there, because they carried a few imports – Penney’s is where I found my “Carpenters: Live At The Palladium” album, which is still unavailable in the U.S. And Penney’s had the best 45 selection of all the chain stores – they had their own Top 40 survey list printed out, and the top 40 plus about 40 other songs were usually available. And they had large plastic shopping bags with handles for 50 cents and those really came in handy.
Then I would make my way to The Crescent, where they had a small record department upstairs – I think it was on the fifth floor. Five or six round bins with four album slots and slots for accessories between the albums. I rarely actually bought stuff there, and I don’t remember finding any real gems there either. But I always checked it out, and the book department was right next door, and I found that The Crescent’s book department was always worth searching through, because before the two bookstores downtown opened in the newer wing of the Skywalk system, it was the best place to find books.
Then I would head through and out the end of the WaMu and across the outdoor bridge to Pay N Save, which always had a decent supply of 45s, but not much in the way of albums. Sometimes you could find a single at Pay N Save that no one else had yet, but most of the time it was a bust that way.
Then, it was over to The Bon, as it was known then (it was bought out in the 1990s and the name finally replaced by Macy’s in the 2000s). My mom had a Bon charge card, and so we did all our major shopping there. And I didn’t even know they had a record department until later years, and I found some real gems there. They were the only place that had the self-titled album by the Saturday morning group Kaptain Kool and the Kongs (this was after they lost the glam makeup for the third season of The Krofft Supershow), and they had the best soundtrack selection other than Odyssey Records up the street. The Bon was always worth the trip.
I recently made a virtual trip back to my old stomping grounds via Google Earth, and sadly, NONE of the old stores are still there, though downtown Spokane is revitalizing again with new stores. Skaggs and Newberry’s both went bankrupt and closed before we left Washington. The Crescent was eventually purchased by Frederick & Nelson, and then that chain filed for bankruptcy and closed in 1992 – the building where the store was is still called Crescent Center, though, a nice homage to the original Spokane-based store. Penney’s moved their main store to one of the malls, and closed the downtown location in the mid-1990s. Pay N Save went bankrupt in 1992 and was bought out by Thrifty Drug Stores, which sold it to Payless Drugs. And The Bon Marche was bought by Federated Stores in 1992 (Damn, that year was HARSH to downtown Spokane, wasn’t it?), who finally changed it’s name to Bon-Macy’s in 2003 for a transitional period, then dropped the original name, carrying on as just Macy’s from 2005 on.
Not many major department stores still have music departments. Sure there are small ones of this ilk at your neighborhood K-Mart, and occasionally at Sears (which is, after all, owned by K-Mart these days) , but the days of walking into a major department store and finding their record department is sadly long gone, replaced by Amazon Music, iTunes, and other digital music services….and while you can search and find lots of gems in those digital download meccas…it’s just not the same as physically picking up an album or 45 and holding it in your hand…::sigh::
We’re currently vacationing on Cape Cod, and we stopped by the Cape Cod Mall on Saturday. We went over to look around, do some shopping, have a nice dinner, and check things out.
The mall is one of the few left that has a large Barnes and Noble with a mall entrance – most of them are free-standing stores these days – and imagine my shock when I saw a bin as we approached the escalator proclaiming “BN now has Vinyl!” But there in the middle of the store, below the big sign, was a large rack with ALBUMS. Not CD’s – Vinyl albums.
WOW! And they had quite a selection. Vintage stuff like the Beatles to current stuff from Sam Smith and everything in-between. I was gobsmacked. It has been YEARS – literally – since I’ve seen a major retailer carry anything other than CD’s when it comes to music. And here’s the last large bookstore chain with a selection of vinyl. It brings a tear to my eye….ok, not really, but nevertheless, it was a grand sight.
Back in the day, ALL the major department store chains used to carry vinyl – I’ll talk shortly about my memories of shopping the stores in downtown Spokane as a teenager – but that was a long time ago. But maybe times are changing.
And it just goes to show that the old adage is true…everything old IS new again…eventually…
(Revised to show new photo taken of display)
I don’t think they’re still in business anymore, but Eucalyptus Records and Tapes was a store in Spokane, WA that I had heard about and wanted to check out. By this point, The Music Box was still around, but I needed to try out more of the stores in the area.
One afternoon in the mid-summer of 1979, I made a trip to Spokane to spend my money, and headed up to north Division St, almost up to the Northtown Shopping Center. I pulled into the store, a free standing store, the first I’d ever been in that wasn’t part of either a strip or a full shopping mall. I walked in, and there were two clerks on duty – both were in their early 20s, I’d say, and both were dressed very nicely. Probably college students somewhere in the area. They smiled when I walked in and said “Hi”. I was one of only two or three people in the store at the time, as it was only mid-morning, and I had several other record stores to visit that day, including DJ’s Sound City in the new “Mini” Mall area of Northtown.
Eucalyptus Records and Tapes was set up a lot like the Odyssey Records store downtown, except it wasn’t nearly as crowded. I was able to leisurely stroll through the store, checking my list, and perusing the bins in search of a discovery or two, as opposed to getting pushed and shoved by 100 people all doing what I was doing.
By this point, I was heavily into disco, and was buying more and more 12-inch single remixes, and I found one of Chic’s “I Want Your Love” on pink vinyl. Ok, had to have that. Also picked up two or three more 12-inch singles, including one of Leif Garrett’s “Feel The Need”, which was the current single from the teen idol at the time. Then I hit the motherlode – well, for me at least – the store actually had a copy of the new album by The Keane Brothers, “Taking Off“; it had come out three months earlier and NO ONE had it – and it couldn’t be special ordered at that time because the album was one of the last released on ABC Records before MCA bought them out, and MCA had declined to pick up their contract in the buyout. So I snatched it up. I picked up a few more 45s, and then headed to the counter.
The tall lanky dark haired clerk snorted as he went through the pile ringing my purchases up…”Hey, better make sure you don’t get whiplash, going between this kind of stuff.”, he chuckled, obviously amused at his little joke, as did his other friend, the blond clerk, who intoned with a serious voice, “I don’t know, do you think you can handle it?”
I smiled, and told them I could, as I’d been writing about music since I was a small child, and that I had a wide range of tastes. They continued their condescending attitude until the purchase was rung, and I handed them the money.
I was so mad I could scream, but I didn’t show it. I kept the smile glued on my face until I left the building and I never went back to Eucalyptus Records and Tapes again. I found their attitudes completely unacceptable, and I found DJ’s in the mall much more hospitable to my eclectic tastes…
I’m repurposing this from one of my old “Song Of The Day” entries on “The Kirkham Report“, but the story has to be told here as well…because…well…it just FITS, you know?
Roger Whittaker is known throughout the world as one of the most popular crooners of the 1970’s. Yet in America, he was virtually unknown until his song “The Last Farewell” catapulted him to the top of the MOR/AC charts here in the States.
Got a Mom story for you, if you weel….heh heh heh…picture a twelve year old TC in the summer of 1975. (Or maybe not…don’t want you running off screaming…heh heh)
My mother loved that song from the moment she first heard it. Now, she’s always been partial to crooners like Dean Martin, Perry Como, Al Martino, and the like. And “The Last Farewell“…well, she just LOVED it. She’d go around humming it to herself while cooking dinner or doing the laundry, etc.
In fact, she loved it so much, she asked me if I was planning to buy it when I got my allowance one week. I told her sure, I could get it, because I liked it too. But I told her it was a back up. But that week it turned out that two other songs I wanted were out at the local record store I frequented then, and so I grabbed a copy of the song for her.
The look I got from the clerk was priceless. The clerk at the record store – it was in a strip mall up the street from the Narrows Bridge in Tacoma Washington (and anyone who might know what this place was, PLEASE get in touch – I’m trying to find the name of it, and photos if anyone has them – it was somewhere in the 6000 -7000 address range (I think) on Sixth Avenue in the same plaza as an old “Wigwam” store and a small Chinese restaurant among other businesses) – was what we could loosely term a “hippie”. He was probably in his late teens or early twenties, with long reddish-brown hair pulled back into a ponytail (oh MAN how I wanted his hair..it was so cool). He always wore loose fitting clothes that were usually pea soup green in color (I can’t remember the name of the store, but I vividly remember the clerk’s clothes…go figure…).
So after perusing the singles bin that morning, and picking up an album I wanted as well, my 12 year old self brought to the counter that day the 45 of The Last Farewell by Roger Whittaker along with:
1 45 of Walking In Rhythm by the Blackbirds
1 45 of The Hustle by Van McCoy
1 LP of Windsong by John Denver
The whiplash on the store clerk’s neck as he looked through my purchases…it was priceless. I laughed my ass off when I left the store. Apparently the clerk couldn’t wrap his mind around a somewhat plump, long-haired twelve year old who liked disco, folk, and crooners at the same time.
A few years later I had a similar experience at a Eucalyptus Records and Tapes store in Spokane…but that’s ANOTHER story…heh heh heh…
Anyway, both my mom and I remain Roger Whittaker fans to this day…and we’ve never forgotten that story…and forty years later to the month – YIKES! – I still laugh when I remember that poor clerk’s face…ROTFL….
Although I’ve been listening to music since I can remember, and buying records since I was about three, for the most part from that time until my teen years, I purchased records in regular stores. There was a large bin for records at a number of local stores when I was growing up in Ohio – Ben Franklin in Utica, Twin Fair and Seaway in Newark, Kings and Arro in Heath, and others. And while I went to a few stores devoted to records as a child, including one in Tacoma WA that I can’t remember the name of (though I remember the clerks faces, go figure), my true haven was a little mom-and-pop owned record store in Spokane, Washington. It was called “The Music Box“, and was a bit of a hike from the downtown shopping area that had been revitalized by Expo ’74. Eventually, they’d extend the skybridges through the local buildings to the Music Box‘s block. But usually it meant going through the bridges to Pay N Save, then going down the stairs and walking the remaining two blocks to the store. When we came to town a couple times a year from Harrington, where I lived (50 miles southwest), The Music Box was the first place I headed with the list of records I wanted.
I loved this place. It was small and homey, had a few bins for albums, and they kept the 45s behind the counter in a rack where they were sorted by record label. You went to the counter, worked with the always friendly ladies that worked there going through Billboard’s Hot 100, and they pulled what you wanted out and gave it to you. If they had it, it was yours for 99 cents. And if they didn’t have it, they could special order it for you using the old Phonolog catalog. I mean, you could do the same at Odyssey Records, a large chain store down the street a few blocks. But it wasn’t the same homey feel.
The Music Box also took mail order and would even ship them to you for $3.00. But usually I would send them a list of stuff, and then a few days later, I’d get a list back showing me what was being held, what wasn’t available, and what they’d special ordered for me. And I would write them back and let them know when I would be in, and would stop by and pick up the lot. They were very cool.
And then it was over.
Without a word to any of their loyal customers, they suddenly closed up shop, not long after the skybridge to their area was completed. It was Summer 1980 (I think), and they simply couldn’t compete with the local chain stores anymore. I mean, with records and tapes available from at least 6 stores in the Skywalk network (Penneys, The Crescent, The Bon Marche, Pay N Save, and two other stores), it was hard for them to compete. So after nearly 40 years of service to the Spokane area, they were gone. Poof. And I found out the hard way – my latest order list was returned to me as undeliverable. Even Odyssey had gone bankrupt by this time – they went belly up in December 1979, which I found out when we were on our way back home from Disneyland, and I trekked up the street from the bus station to it’s location in Fresno, CA only to find an “out of business” sign in their window.
Now, I WAS driving by this point, but our car had fallen apart at the end of the previous summer after I’d had a semi-major accident (thankfully neither I nor my passenger were injured). So I depended on the Greyhound to get me to and from Spokane, and so couldn’t make it up there very often. When I had the car, I had a number of other record stores I could get to, such as DJ’s Records and Tapes in Northtown’s new “mini-mall” area, and Eucalyptus Records and Tapes down the street. But they were out of my way once the car crapped out; no real way to get to them. And I missed my Music Box anyway…it was an experience I will never forget. It has always been my FAVORITE record store of any kind. Some others have come close, but NONE ever gave the personal service that they did, and I will always be in their debt for making me the collector I have become.