With record stores closing right and left, I thought it was appropriate to look back at what my favorite music stores have been. Too bad I wasn't a music fan in the early '80s (I was really too young), as there was a music store at the end of my street called Everbody's Record Company (later Everbody's Records, Tapes and Video). I went in just once; had I been just a little bit older it would have been amazing.
1. Tower Records, Beaverton, Oregon (late '80s through '90s)
This is where I spent most of my allowance from 1987 to 1995. Frequent trips were made, particularly on new release-Tuesdays. I'm so glad my mom indulged that, as I proudly purchased Madonna's Like a Prayer, I'm Breathless, Immaculate Collection, Erotica, and Bedtime Stories on the day of release...all from Tower. The Tower was located in Beaverton Mall, which I think has since renamed itself something pretentious and lame. It's amazing how 20 years ago the cost of CDs was actually higher than it is today.
2. Music Millennium, Northwest Portland, Oregon ('90s)
When I got a little older and ventured into the city more I discovered Music Millennium, a hip independent music store that sells a mix of new and used CDs. I think it's still there, although I haven't checked in many years. This is probably where I bought my Cranberries CDs.
3. Hot Poop, Walla Walla, Washington (late '90s)
The college music store! Just blocks off campus. The prices were a bit high (CDs veering much closer to $20 than $10), but it was a great place and independent, so it was worth supporting. I remember buying Erasure and Madonna's Something to Remember there during the first semester of freshman year at Whitman College.
4. Virgin Megastore, Oxford Street, London (1998)
Then there was the study abroad experience, which brought me to this masterful place. It was so wonderful. How I loved the full-wall display of all top 40 singles updated every Monday morning (yes, I strolled through before class). Madonna's Ray of Light surely came from here, as well as many singles.
5. Melody Music, Dupont Circle, Washington, DC (1999 - early '00s)
When I moved to DC, I quickly discovered this little independent store in Dupont Circle. I don't go there much anymore, but mostly just because I don't frequent that area as much as I did in my 20s. What do I remember buying here? Pet Shop Boys' Nightlife, for example--the 2 CD special edition.
6. Tower Records, The George Washington University, Washington, DC (early to mid '00s)
I worked downtown near here, but during grad school, I was here constantly, trolling the import CD singles section in particular. It was a great 2-story store, with pop/rock and singles upstairs. Good magazine section too. I remember treating myself to a shopping spree here on my birthday.
7. Virgin Megastore, Times Square, NY (early to mid '00s)
It wasn't as cool as the Oxford Street store, but the Times Square Virgin Megastore had the best imports section of any music store I ever saw. A trip to New York wasn't complete without a visit. Sadly, I neglected to go when I was there last month, and it was my last chance to visit. Last time I was there I bought Mark Ronson's Version, among other things.
8. Rasputin Music, San Francisco (mid '00s)
This is a great store, that I'm happy to report is still around. It's a multi-floor store near Union Square with the top floor dedicated to used CDs with great deals. One of its most interesting attributes is its elevator (there aren't public stairs), complete with elevator operator. Last time I was there in October she was grooving to Rilo Kiley while she took me to the top floor.
9. Amazon.co.uk (early '00s to today)
Tired of paying double price or more for imports on Amazon.com or in music stores, I discovered that I could actually import the music myself and pay less. How novel. Among my first purchases: Cher's Living Proof, which was released in the UK months ahead of its US release, Steps' Greatest Hits, and Robbie Williams' Swing When You're Winning.
10. iTunes (today)
Now I can buy music whenever I want from the privacy and comfort of my living room chair. Dangerous, maybe; addictive, definitely; but well worth it.