The 60’s was an era like none other for music store owners. Not only was it virtually the only place that music was sold, the local record shop was often a popular place for hippies to hang out.
With the generation of music lovers also came an era of rebellion against war and discord. “Peace, love and rock-and-roll” was the motto of the day. Record shops monopolized on the mood and often sold peace sign decals and anti-war posters. Patches were another big seller. They were sold and then sewn on blue jeans or jackets.
Drugs were also on the scene. Back then, the dangers we know today were not as apparent. There was a lot of experimentation which eventually led to the awareness of the harm drugs do but in the 60’s, there was a whole different attitude about them, especially marijuana. Many record shops sold smoking paraphernalia and sometimes, even the smoke. A good number of these stores had an upstairs room where people could lounge on beanbag chairs and get high. With the growing concern about the harm of drugs came crackdowns on such places but for a while, they were pretty popular.
Although there was a movement to fight drugs in the 70’s, record shops still catered to the crowd. They just did so in a more obscure manner. Along with albums, incense was sold and other “head shop” items that were commonly used to cover up or aid in pot smoking. Upstairs facilities were still available in many record shops but they were much more secretive.
A good record store would not only have regular albums, but import ones as well. These were coveted and sold for considerably more money. “Cut-outs” were available too. These were albums that didn’t make it to popularity and were sold for less. Many people were fonder of “cut-outs” because the music was not overplayed. “Bootleg versions” were pretty popular as well.
When an album would come out, it was not unusual for people to flock to the closest music shop. Sometimes there were long lines and albums would sell out quickly. Since there was no way to duplicate albums in the days of old, there was no such thing as sharing music. People also needed to replace scratched albums so record shops were rarely without a steady income. There were also shops that were “the place to go” which were sometimes small local spots and later, in the 70’s, oftentimes in a mall.
Albums gave way to 8-track tapes and they were wildly popular. They could be played in the car and places that albums couldn’t be play at so people flocked to purchase them. Cassette tapes eventually replaced 8-tracks and CDs replaced cassettes. Digital music has now replaced much hard copy music all together but there will always be those who won’t settle for less than a good album or CD and for as long as those people remain, there will be record shops to fill their orders.