Friday, April 17, 2009

Record Stores - Fallen Flags

In honour of Record Store Day, I took a look through my thousands of shiny (well, dusty) black discs just to see how many different stores I used to shop at back in the glory days of vinyl (i.e. pre-1988 when I got my first CD player). The biggest problem I found was that a lot of stores I shopped at used to price their platters with either a pen or a grease pencil. When I worked at Music World in the Don Mills Centre in the summer of 1988, practically everything was in grease, with a few notable (?) exceptions (see below).

The 80's vintage Music World sticker. Replaced in later years by a circular black sticker with the price in middle.
Ahh Driftwood. One of the best stores on the Queen West strip, at the foot of St. Patrick Street, just west of University. This place was fabulous for their $1 sales and a healthy stock of indie product, such as the first version of "I'm An Adult Now" by The Pursuit of Happiness, which was mine for the low price of $3.99.

Another bargain basement, as well as every other square inch of the store, Peter Dunn's Vinyl Museum had stores on Yonge Street, next to A&A, on Bloor Street, first near Brunswick, later west of Bathurst, and at two locations on Lake Shore Boulevard West, in either Mimico or New Toronto. Also, for some strange reason, they had a location in Clearwater, Florida, which I managed to drop a few bucks at back in 1993. The Vinyl Museum was an odd duck. They had a ton of cheap one- and two-dollar records, as well as collectables at higher prices, but what made them "different" in later years was the presence of subtle Christian writings on the plastic outer sleeves which protected their albums. I will say that there's some sweet irony in seeing a Dayglo Abortions record being "protected" by the Lord. This CD, by the Quebec fusion band Sortie was my final purchase at the Lake Shore/Islington location in the early 90's.

Probably my favourite import store had to be Records On Wheels. I'm not sure whether the location near Yonge and Wellesley was part of the chain which has now evolved into the CD Plus brand, but their selection was unique. And cheaper than Peddler, too! (If it was $6.99 at Record Peddler, it was usually $5.99 at Wheels). It was here where I bought my copy of "Do They Know It's Christmas" a day early, it was here where I got OMD to autograph a tour programme, it was here where I'd run to after hearing "Live From London" or the "Original Import Show" on CFNY to drop my hard-earned teenage cash for one or two songs that weren't released in Canada (yet, if at all).

Speaking of the Peddler, this was probably the most notorious place where music snobbery ran rampant, where asking the clerk to play your about-to-be-purchased copy of "So In Love" generated a sneer (he played it anyway, btw) and you went first thing on Boxing Day to get overstocked import albums (never mind the singles) for a dirt-cheap price. Or use it as a jumping off point for going over to Records on Wheels to save a buck or two. Record stores aren't above a little irony, either. Shortly after Wheels abandoned ship on Yonge Street, the Peddler moved from their Carlton Street space into that of their former rival.

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