Record stores just ain’t what they used to be…not in Michigan, anyway.

Back many decades ago, especially in the pre-Beatle era, anyone could go into a record store and listen to a record before buying it. You would pick out a record, the store clerk would open it and place it on a turntable, while you went inside a ‘listening booth’, put on headphones (or listen thru a speaker) and decide whether or not you wanted to buy it. If not, the clerk would re-seal the record and put it back on the shelf.

This routine eventually petered out but later, there were shops where you could listen to a CD before buying. Nowadays, just listen online.

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The old record stores had record album covers all over the place: on all the walls, the ceiling, countertops, and the rows and rows of shelving that contained literally thousands and thousand of vinyl lps.

There are some of these shops still out there, but they are mostly used record shops. Some of the best record shops that we frequented in Michigan are no more: Camelot, Harmony House, Musicland, Peaches, Record Hut, Record World, Sam Goody, Tower, Wherehouse Records, and many retail stores that used to carry a huge variety of vinyl – Kmart once upon a time had an excellent record selection, as did Shopper’s Fair.

When I was in high school, I worked in a small town supermarket that had a small record album section. I was in charge of placing orders for new records and I ordered a handful of Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention albums...not your typical small town taste in music, but at least the other kids dug 'em.

There were smaller, more compact record shops that maybe had a few hundred albums, but the ones they had were imports, rare, and hard-to-find copies. These stores could be found squeezed in-between other downtown shops or even in a neighborhood a few blocks away from the business section.

Nope – record stores ain’t what they used to be, but they are still fun to visit, even though prices have changed. An album that cost $2.98 back in the 50s and 60s would now cost no less than $25…and you can’t even listen to it in a booth.

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