Hello, and welcome to Record Store Spotlight; a new column here on Dying Scene dedicated to an institution almost as American as apple pie and unfettered capitalism – the record store!
Today, I’ll be putting the spotlight on one of my favorite local stores, the Clearwater Record Shop. Nestled in the middle of my hometown (a city most well known for being home to the Church of Scientology’s headquarters), the Clearwater Record Shop sets itself apart from other record stores with its heavy focus on used music. Rather than relying on distributors to supply new releases, owner Casey Brown has spent years building his inventory one record collection acquisition at a time. The store which spans two interconnected warehouse spaces boasts one of the most expansive selections of used CDs I’ve ever seen. Every time I visit, I leave with a stack of jewel cases a few feet high. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re met with hundreds of bins overflowing with discs, the majority of which are just $3.75 each (or six for $20!).
Sure, it’s hard to beat the ease and convenience of shopping online. But the Clearwater Record Shop goes toe to toe with Discogs prices, and I find that most of the time, they come out ahead. Also, I’ve yet to find a more enjoyable way to kill a few hours on my day off than thumbing through thousands of records and CDs, searching for worthy additions to my collection. It’s a visceral experience that can’t be matched by browsing an online marketplace. Finding a record like The Clash’s Combat Rock for $15, and not having to wait an eternity for USPS to deliver it is icing on the cake. My only complaint about this store is that the selection is literally overwhelming. If you’re on a budget, you might have to get a little picky as your stack grows taller.
In the cooler months (yes, we sometimes have those here in Florida), the Clearwater Record Shop acts as a host to monthly swap meets. Local record collectors and vendors are invited to set up tables in the parking lot to sell their wares. These events serve as a great meeting place for the community, and are a highlight of winter and spring for me. The first time we attended, I grabbed a few LPs, including the Buzzcocks’ A Different Kind of Tension ($10) and Billy Joel’s Songs in the Attic ($5), along with a bunch of dollar bin CDs by the likes of the Ramones, Ozzy, and Megadeth.
It’s always a fun time shopping at this store. Casey is very personable and has created something really special here. The store has a unique, inviting old school atmosphere. The selection is great, and the prices are fair. Your dollar goes a lot further here than it does at most record stores.
If you ever find yourself in the Tampa Bay area, I highly recommend stopping by the Clearwater Record Shop. With two air conditioned warehouses packed to the rafters with nothing but music, music, and even more music, you’re bound to stumble upon something that suits your fancy. Or, if you lack self control like me, you’ll probably leave with a mountain of stuff that suits your fancy.
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