Is there still a place for used record stores?

On the same day my favorite used record store got a shout out in Entertainment Weekly, I found out it was closing

Used record stores come and go, but the Great Escape on Broadway in Nashville, between Music Row and Vandy, had been around since the Carter administration. It closed on Sunday, saying it couldn’t afford an upcoming rent increase.

Of course, the Great Escape on Broadway isn’t Nashville’s only used record store — heck, it isn’t even Nashville’s only Great Escape — but it was a landmark. When a writer from Entertainment Weekly wanted to take Taylor Swift to a record store for a story in this week’s issue, she took her to the Great Escape.

What’s interesting is that you usually didn’t see people as young as Taylor Swift at the Great Escape. (She’s 20.) It was mostly guys my age. (I’m not 20.)

People as young as Taylor Swift are more likely to download than buy CD’s (and trade in their old ones).

Heck, I’m more likely to download, too. In fact, the last few times I went to the Broadway store, it was to sell my old CD’s. (I don’t think I’d listened to the Spin Doctors since Taylor Swift was 2.)

Used to, you’d browse the bins at a place like the Great Escape and find some new music, but lately, it seemed like it was mostly stuff from 10, 15 years ago — the kind of stuff I’d already traded in.

Which is kind of the point to a used CD store, I guess.

You flip through the bins and find stuff you didn’t know you were looking for, maybe something you’d you’d read about in Rolling Stone or something you’d heard about but hadn’t actually heard — except now we’ve got iTunes and Pandora and lots of other ways to hear music.

You don’t need to flip though bins of old CD’s, find a disc you think you might like, take it out of its case and hold it sideways against the light to see whether it’s scratched then buy it, hoping you might actually like it and didn’t just blow $7.

Of course, all of this is beside the point when it comes to the Great Escape’s flagship store on Broadway — iTunes and Pandora aren’t raising the rent — and I can always shop at one of the Great Escape’s other stores around town … but I probably won’t. I don’t need any more 10-year-old CDs. I have a closet full of them.

God bless the Great Escape. I hope it’s around forever, but for me, a music geek who used to have 100’s of CDs, most of which I never played, I think an era’s over.

PHOTO: Image by jbcurio via Flickr.

16 thoughts on “Is there still a place for used record stores?

  1. Sorry about your favourite store closing, Todd! I started buying records when I was a kid (most of which I still have)…I still buy CD’s when I find an artist who I really love…

    In our metropolitan Saint John area of 125,000 people, we have one new record store, and one used one! Sad times…


    1. I still have a ton of vinyl, too, including some original “American Top 40″ broadcasts from the ’70’s and early ’80’s (I worked at a radio station in high school, and they threw them out). Of course, I don’t have a turntable anymore, but I’ve got a bunch of LP’s! :-)

      1. I still have a turntable (speed is off a bit – might need a new belt), and Jim has one too…unfortunately, I don’t know how to operate his “stereo system.” He recently got his albums back from his ex-wife…being an IT guy, he downloads most of his music on to his computer…


      2. I used to have a record player that played a little too fast. Drove me nuts. You know what’s worse? When the hole is a smidgen off center, or there’s a slight warp on one side of the record, just enough so that you’re listening to your favorite song and it WOBBLES just a little every few SECONDS.

  2. Used cd stores are like crack houses for me.

    Finding things I didn’t know I was looking for is exactly what I do when I’m there. I’ll take a flyer on something that is something I might like at a used record store that I wont go for on itunes or at a new store.

    1. I still love ’em, too, but it’s gotta be really cheap before I’ll buy it. There’s another used CD/movie/video game store here called McKay’s. They’ve got rows and rows of supposedly scratched CDs for a buck or two. I’ll buy a handful, clean ’em and rip ’em. The only CD that was damaged beyond repair was the Steve Miller Band’s “Greatest Hits 1974-78.” The only track that skipped was that instrumental track before “Jet Airliner,” which is a track I’d skip, anyway.

      It’s not that I’m cheap, it’s that … well, OK. I am cheap, but I also have too many CDs that I never, ever listen to anymore, and never will again. (Hootie.)

  3. When talks of EarXtacy might close here in Louisville, people came out of the woodwork. The local media was buzzing, the store was packed and they were able to salvage the store – they had to move though. I hate seeing music shops and bookstores closing. But we roll with the times.

  4. It’s a sad day when places like this close. We still have a turntable, well it’s in storage with the rest of our household goods in Cape Town, but we have one. I listen to my old Van Morrison records on it. My brother-in-law regularly has vinyl evenings where we all take our best or worst records, play them, talk about them and vote on them. It’s a great way to spend an evening, and keep vinyl alive, in our neck of the woods!

  5. Ours closed a year or so ago and I miss it. I, too, love the convenience of downloading, but I found that I really missed liner notes and artwork. It’s similar to the Kindle/real book issue.

    On her MCA Years album, Nanci Griffith does an introduction to “Love at the Five and Dime,” where she talks about switching buses at the corner of 6th and Congress and there was ‘just enough time to run into the Woolworth’s, dig through the record bin for somethin’ you ALWAYS wanted ALL your life, wink at boys and get back on the bus.”

    I hear her twang in my head every time I dig through a record bin (but I do not wink at the boys).

    1. Eh, go ahead and wink at the boys, unless you live in a small town, where everybody knows you. Then you probably shouldn’t because will talk.

      I asked Thing 1 (the 10-year-old) the other day whether she preferrs CDs or downloads. She goes, “Downloads,” like I’d said, “Would you rather have mac and cheese or fried worms,” like it was the most obvious question in the world. She’s got a whole other way of looking at these things.

  6. We had a great little store close to my house that I drove past about 4 times a week. Every time I drove by I thought, “I have to check out this place…” And, well, I didn’t. And, yes, now it’s closed. All my fault, of course.

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