Inside the Record Store, 1981 – 1987

RS Sam Goody 1987

Sam Goody, Visalia Fair Mall, California, 1987

You can see promo posters for Michael Jackson’s Bad on the top right. Yes, those are cassettes lining the walls. They were put into long plastic containers to deter theft, and the containers stacked in wall units. There was a key at the register that allowed sales staff to pop the tape out.

RS Polliwog 1981

Polliwog Records and Tapes, 1981. (Photo: Charles Curtis/Duluth Herald)

That’s not how you spell Reggae.

RS Tower 1980s

Tower Records, Tacoma, Washington, circa 1986

RS Tower 1984

Tower Records, New York, 1984. (Photo: Edward Hausner/NYT)

The New York Tower is state of the art for the time period. Compare it to the Washington store. There are some TVs mounted next to the Purple Rain poster.

RS Hegewischs 1985

Hegewisch Records, Chicago, 1985. (Photo: Kim Tonry)

It looks like the metalheads are in line for concert tickets. First Megadeath tour? Slayer?

I have another good record store shot here.

(Images via Historic Happenings, News Tribune Attic, Murdockinations, The New York Times, Metal Psalter)

5 Responses to “Inside the Record Store, 1981 – 1987”


  1. 1 leftylimbo July 30, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Yup, heshers could be in line for concert tickets…but they could also be there for an in-store appearance/signing?

    Had we discussed The Wherehouse before? How they used to have all the Top 40 records/tapes arranged with numbered dividers so you could make a bee line to whichever hit on the chart you wanted?

    Reggea, lol. That’s actually a killer Wailers album there on the front. Ooo! And it’s at The Nice Price! LoL.

  2. 2 Jason July 31, 2013 at 12:38 am

    I seriously miss record stores. Even the chains.

  3. 3 2W2N July 31, 2013 at 1:11 am

    Lefty: Yeah, we discussed The Wherehouse, but I don’t remember how it was arranged. I’m trying to track down more of these shots, but drawing a blank on the stores in our area.

    Jason: I feel the same. Another ten years and I’ll be saying the same thing about book stores. Wait, I’m already saying the same thing about book stores…

  4. 4 J January 24, 2014 at 7:46 am

    To me the real “elephant in the room” here is isolation. Shopping for music or books, is not like grocery shopping. There is (was) a real sense of private belonging, when you make that trip to the store, journey through those shelves and racks. Will the clerk sneer at my choices as I check out? Do I care? No. What past and future friends might I run into?

    Now you have to share your favorite books with wikipedia skimming fact checkers who let you know how wrong you are (like it matters). Your favorite music with people who make sure to let you know that they have “their entire catalog”, but haven’t really bothered to listen to it. It all just seems so lazy and easy. It’s hard not to feel alienated. I long for those old stores and I kind of feel like convenience has robbed me of something valuable.

  5. 5 Ed February 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I wish there was still record stores like this I would go there all of the time, but I wouldn’t buy anything. 🙂


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