COMO Record Stores

Why can't Columbia have a good record store? Jeff City has JT's. Aren't we deserving of a JT's? We have had and currently do have outlets to buy records here, but frankly, none have ever been worth being your go to place.

Streetside Records (though still here in body) got bought out long ago by corporate retail thug Trans World Entertainment, and with Kevin Walsh, its soul flew.

Scuzzy and quirky, APOP Records briefly crammed into that Johnny-on-the-Spot on Locust Street where Carpe Diem now does who-knows-what, but they skipped town to St. Louis where they've established themselves on Cherokee Street in South City. Columbia wasn't ready for it then, but just think about how perfectly it would fit into one of those spots near Orr Street--perhaps sitting in one of those empty buildings that share Cafe Berlin's parking lot.

A quick word about Goodwill, Salvation Army and vintage shops like Leo's (Columbia's best kept secret for used clothes): Like everything else in these places, it's extremely hit or miss. I once found a New York Dolls LP in excellent condition for $5 at Salvation, but it was buried under months worth of visits.

Slackers probably sustains itself mostly on video game sales and new releases on CDs, but they also have a small, half-aisle worth of records for sale. Though they do have a $1 and used rack, most of the worthwhile records are new, often expensive pressings. The selection they choose to keep in stock is above average though, boasting hard-to-finds like Sun Ra and Townes van Zandt and interesting live albums like Wilson Pickett: Live in Paris. It's fun to peruse what they've got, it's not suited well for someone on a budget (me).

I'll always have some love for Whizz Records because it was the place that I bought my first vinyl at, but it still didn't keep me from driving down to JT's. The prices were high and the selection was never, ever, updated. The Rolling Stones section was full of Steel Wheels and Undercover, the Beach Boys section lacked their only album that actually matters and the Three Dog Night section that never, ever, fucking, ended.

Whizz was eventually bought out a few years ago and briefly changed its name to something like 'Sunshine Media' before settling on 'Mizzou Records.' The guy who runs the store, which has since relocated to Walnut Street next to Ernies, is a genuinely nice dude. (I thought otherwise for a long time after we had a little tiff over a pair of Otis Redding albums that he wanted $40 for and refused to take anything less, because an online price guide told him not to. I wasn't trying to cheap him out of a bargain, the records were not in as good of condition as he claimed. I overpaid and he was a prick about it, but I've gotten over it.) Personal qualities aside, he's not the kind of person a great record store needs. He likes, maybe even loves music, but he isn't insane and neurotic about it like you want him to be. He's a mild-mannered collector, not a vinyl freak.

Mizzou Records touts a marginally better selection than Whizz did. You can actually find some of the classics you're looking for at a price you'd expect, but it still offers nothing from the last 15 years nor any local stuff besides the Monte Carlos' 7-inch they're selling for just $1. (It's a steal).

When I spoke to him a few weeks back, he said Mizzou Records will yet again be relocating sometime this summer or fall, this time to Broadway and "done right." Right now he doesn't have much room to expand with new releases, but he says that the new location will have plenty. As an interesting aside, he'll be teaming up with a financial partner who wants have a recording studio in the store--an idea reminiscent of the historic Sun Studios and Stax/Satellite records down in Memphis.

So who knows, maybe Mizzou Records will develop into a hi-fi oasis in Mid-Missouri to rival the great, yet subtle JT's. I hope so.

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