- By Larry Aydlette Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Music lovers have it made nowadays. You log into Spotify, find a song, click on it. Stick in your earbuds. Done.
So why do we persist in a nostalgic reverie about the good old days of vinyl, when you actually had to get in your car and drive somewhere to buy music? When you needed a weirdly-shaped yellow plastic insert to play a 45 rpm single. And when you pretty much had to buy an album on faith — and the talismanic power of the artwork, liner notes and track information on its plastic-wrapped cover.
Let’s agree that progress is a good thing, music-wise. Still, we kinda miss the record store.
Is it possible to even count the number of hours we spent in record stores? You’d go down the long rows, strengthening your finger muscles as you flipped fast and furious through endless stacks of LPs. You’d stop, look at the cover, turn it over, think about it — Is this three-LP Emerson, Lake and Palmer album really worth $5.99? — put it back, take it out again, think about it some more.
You could be in there all day sometimes.
And then you’d have to browse the 45s (or in later eras, the 8-tracks, “cassingles” and CD’s, though that was never quite the same.) Or maybe you needed to buy a record player needle. Or a blacklight poster of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Or the latest copy of Rolling Stone, Circus or Creem magazines. Or you wanted to score primo concert tickets — which means you’d been camped out at the record store all night long. There was no online then. You got in a real line.
A record store was a community — a place for the like-minded to mingle, chill, and discuss music. A Starbucks of sound. Sure, you can find every single you once owned on YouTube now, but the record store provided a more human connection. And the people who worked there were usually weirdly obsessive just like you.
We asked online readers to remind us of their favorite Palm Beach County record stores and we dug around in our archives for more clues. Other than the chain era of the ’80s-’90s, there were never a lot of stores that exclusively sold records. Department stores, drug stores, and TV/stereo appliance shops were the major players for music.
Confusion Records, Lake Park’s venerable vinyl joint, is about all the only place left today that would fit the definition of a vintage record store. Even with a vinyl revival, the music sections of chain stores such as Barnes & Noble or FYE are mere ghosts of what they once were. Best Buy just announced that it’s discontinuing CDs in July and will only commit to selling vinyl for two more years.
All that’s left to do is drop the needle on these memories.
SALON OF MUSIC: This was one of the the first record stores in Palm Beach County. Salon of Music had a shop at 245 Worth Avenue as early as 1945, according to old newspaper ads. It’s where the Loro Piana clothing and accessories store is now. Salon also had an outpost at 110 S. Olive Ave. in West Palm Beach, near Clematis. The shop routinely took out ads in The Post, promoting everything from Bob Hope and boogie-woogie LPs in the 1940s to Elvis Presley’s “great new RCA Victor record album” in 1956.
“They had listening booths,” recalled reader Lisa Jefferson. “I remember it in the early-mid 1960s. Everything was downtown then — no Palm Beach Mall.”
“Used to go there all the time for 45’s,” said reader Roger Meldrum.
“They had several small booths that you would go in and listen to a 45 while you decided which one you wanted to buy,” remembered Barbara Hughes Crawford. “At that time, it was a big record store.”
By 1965, Salon of Music had a new West Palm location at 801 South Dixie, near what is now CityPlace, touted as “the largest independent Home Entertainment Center in the Palm Beaches.” It had expanded into a full-service “custom sound installation” business, selling TVs, stereos and providing everything from fire alarms to school sound systems.
WILSON’S MUSIC MANOR: This was also a home entertainment appliance store and record shop. According to newspaper ads, it began around 1961. It had locations in Lake Park and on Northwood Road and South Olive Avenue in West Palm Beach.
It touted itself in the mid-’60s as the headquarters for Beatles albums: “Let’s Go to Music Manor — Where The Action Is and Rock To The Sounds of The Beatles,” one ad announced, accompanied by a picture of a moptop wig. A 1966 ad claimed Music Manor had “The Palm Beaches Largest Record Display.” Dig these prices: James Brown’s “Soul Brother” album sold for $2.49 (a discount from the list price of $3.79.) “Aftermath” by the Rolling Stones went for $2.89 in stereo, a little less in mono. Record cleaning cloths sold for a quarter, record holding racks for 69 cents.
“I think my family spent so many hours in Music Manor, there might be a plaque commemorating them!” wrote reader Trish Cusack. “Like Salon of Music, Music Manor contained listening booths. My mother remembers listening to a documentary album about the Beatles in one such booth.”
BRUBAKER’S: One of the oldest record stores, it operated on Datura Street in West Palm Beach from at least the late 1940s. It also sold pianos and sheet music. A 1946 ad said it was “The Palm Beaches Most Complete Record Store.”
PEACHES: This was the first of the big chain record stores of the ’80s and ’90s, debuting on Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach in 1980. (Other chains also came and went: Spec’s, Camelot Music, Musicland, Borders.) At its opening, Peaches carried about $500,000 worth of records and tapes, according to a Post story. It was well-known for its wooden display cases and old-timey, fruit crate-style logo. It also had a store on Palmetto Park Road in Boca Raton. That location employed a young associate named Brian Warner, who later went on to fame as shock rocker Marilyn Manson. In 1991, Tony Bennett popped into the Boca store to promote his latest album.
THE RECORD STATION: It was at the Greenwood Shopping Center in Palm Springs in the ’80s and ’90s, offering a line of gift products as well as music. “Great place to get obscure stuff,” wrote John Wood. It was also one of those record stores that sold concert tickets. In 1985, readers camped out overnight with lawn chairs and blankets to buy tickets for Prince’s final concert of his “Purple Rain” tour at the Orange Bowl. (Concert fans, try not to weep while reading this: Tickets were selling for $19, and the most exclusive seats, the “Purple Circle” in the first five rows, only cost $100.) The store moved in 2001 to Forest Hill Boulevard in West Palm Beach and lasted for awhile as Music, Movies and More — the more being everything from wind chimes to posters to incense.
SOUND SPLASH: This was Palm Beach County’s alt-music hangout of the late ’80s and ’90s. It opened in 1989 in a Palm Beach Gardens shopping plaza on Northlake Boulevard, then moved to Okeechobee near Peaches. It focused on alternative rock and reggae, and sold controversial records such as 2 Live Crew’s “As Nasty As They Wanna Be.” Sound Splash closed in 1999, but was resurrected in 2001 for awhile in the West Palm Beach industrial district on Georgia Avenue, where its funky, anti-establishment vibe made it a fun place to visit. Owner Matt Reynolds also gave young up-and-coming bands a needed venue. As Reynolds told The Post in 2001: “When I feel like I’ve made a contribution is when a band gets to play that wouldn’t get to play anywhere else or when somebody comes in and finds a really authentic piece of music.”
CRAIG’S RECORDS: Owner Craig Ogozaly ran this record emporium in a Lake Park warehouse area for about a decade, beginning in 1990. Along with Confusion Records, it made tiny Lake Park the county’s vinyl capital. Like Confusion, Craig’s was very cluttered. Ogozaly, who was a roofer and dedicated surfer, had close to 200,000 45 rpm singles, but kept about 20,000 in the store, along with 30,000 LPs. He started the business because his wife couldn’t stand all the records overflowing in their home. "I drive my wife crazy, because our garage is full, really full, of 45s," he told the Post in 1999. And the hunt of seeking out old, rare records was an incomparable thrill, he told The Post: "It's like sex. It just lasts longer."