Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Baltimore Record Shops - 40 Years Ago

Baltimore has had a long, rich history of record shops.
 
40 years ago, the city region had over 15 stores selling records. Here's how they were described in a city guide called Bawlamer: An Informal Guide To A Livelier Baltimore from 1974, published by the Citizens Planning and Housing Association.

Athenaikon Music Center (4717 Eastern Ave.)
Greek records, periodicals, and cookbooks. A must for budding belly dancers.

Downtown Sounds (529 N. Howard St.)
In the heart of downtown shopping district. Records and tapes. The sounds were from Broadway to soul.

For The Record, Inc. (Howard & Fayette St., 217 E. Baltimore St., Reisterstown Road Plaza)
Baltimore's discount record shop. Sales weekly, largest collection of contemporary records. Excellent stock of standards, folk, classical, and "old rock". The staff was knowledgeable and helpful in all areas.

Italia Kanta (3512 E. Lombard St. )
A converted rowhouse in the heart of Highlandtown, this store was the place to go for imported Italian recordings. Many selections in opera, regional music, classical, etc. Gifts for your Italian Aunt Sophie could be found here, too.

Kentrikon Music Store (428 S. Oldham St. off Eastern Ave.)
Greek records, worry beads, and books.

King's (817 W. 36th St.)
This hole-in-the-wall shop in the Hampden shopping district specialized in bluegrass, country/western and gospel. A helpful and garrulous proprietor would guide you through the racks. You'd have to look carefully - the store had no sign.

Kozy Korner Record Shop (1723 N. Wolfe St.)
An eastside Baltimore neighborhood record shop, KK offered selections in soul, jazz, and rock. Posters and accessories available.

Music Liberated (210 W. Saratoga St., 1037 Light St.)
Boulder-sized contemporary rock collection. Discount prices on some records and tapes. One of the few all-record shops with a branch in South Baltimore.

Out-Of-Print Record Locators (6114 Gist Ave.)
Want the original recording of Pat Boone's "Love Letters in the Sand", or Mitzi Gaynor's first LP, or how about Doc Watson's first 33 1/3 waxing? Out-of-Print Record Locators may have had it, or, if not, they would have probably found it through their nationwide network of contact. Specialized in original Broadway musical soundtracks, jazz, folk, and "personality" records (don't call, however, for rock, classical or opera).

Radio Center (3118 Greenmount Ave.)
In Waverly's large shopping district, Radio Center offered a fairly large collection of LP's and tapes. Very large numbers of 45 offerings. One whole section of the store was also devoted to sales of hi-fi equipment and accessories.

Record And Tape Collector (409 W. Cold Spring Ln., and other locations in Bel Air, Towson, and Dundalk)
Excellent selection of records in all categories; good place to go for hard-to-find waxings. Sales personnel especially helpful and knowledgeable - they would call their other shops to track down what you want and would order.

Record Masters (711 W. 40th St., The Rotunda)
Besides a good variety of American contemporary, standard, etc., there was a large selection of imported labels.

Soul World (300 N. Eutaw St.)
Vast selection of soul from the "old" sounds of Motown and Philadelphia to the latest releases of black artists. Prices are competitive.

Wollman's (233 S. Broadway.)
A small 33 1/3 LP collection, but a big 45 collection, Wollman's also featured lights, posters, stereo equipment and clock radios. Buy your toaster here, too. To find Wollman's on the Broadway strop, follow the noise pollution emanating from the crackling loud speaker.

Yeager's Music Stores (3300 Eastern Ave.)
For the musically inclined, Yeager's had it all: instruments, sheet music, music books, records, parts and accessories.

Almost all of these are gone now (with the exception of Athenaikon) but a couple stores did make it into the 21st century.

How many Baltimore record stores have you visited recently?

You can find an interesting story about a young late-60s era psychedelic band from Dundalk that involves a few old Baltmore-area shops/hangouts here.

Note: The above descriptions are as they appeared in the Bawlamer guide, except I removed the phone numbers and in some cases I changed the verb tense in the descriptions to past tense lest someone on the internet stumble upon this list and think it's a current Baltimore record shop directory and not a glimpse into Baltimore's record scene 40 years ago. Also, I didn't include a listing for Ted's Musician Shop since it wasn't a record shop.

The Radio Center sign image was taken from Norm's Neon Sign Garden.

2 comments:

Mike Liszewski said...

Isn't Record and Tape Collector now Record and Tape Traders?

Benn said...

My understanding is that Record & Tape Collector and Record and Tape Traders were 2 different businesses. Also, Record & Tape Trader only has its Towson location left, and there are many rumors about it's future.