14 Jan

The Biggest Record Show in the World. The Last Record Store.

Ok, so maybe I’m a little behind the curve here, but I just saw that there is a record convention in Austin, Texas that is the biggest in the world. The Austin Record Convention has been meeting since 1981, brings in over 300 dealers, and over 1 million records, tapes, CD’s, and even an 8-track or two.

I went to a record show once, but it wasn’t near this big. It was in a Red Roof Inn or something like that.

I would love to go to a record show that is this big. Apparently, it’s so big, that they have search announcements every few hours for people to be able to find a certain record.

The next show is October 3rd, 4th, and5th of 2008.

At the next few shows they will be selling the inventory of an old record shop that closed down, and has not been touched since 1970. Wow! Can you imagine, brand new records, magazines and posters from 1970? I bet there is some nice stuff that nobody has even seen in 38 years. Here is what they have to say about the store on the website;

In these days of diminishing vinyl, while we all watch the remnants of the vinyl era melt away on eBay or at the record shows, it’s easy to think back to the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s when vinyl ruled and record shops were everywhere. If you ever wished those days would come back or you had a time machine, well your dream has come true, if only for a brief flash in the musical pan. What’s this all about, well it’s about a record shop that shouldn’t exist in 2006 but yet it does, or did, as so many stores did during those golden decades of vinyl.

Our story starts in 1968 when a young Scottish lad obsessed with Soul music and in love with all it represented came to the US in search of his favorite records. His name is John Anderson, and he represented the vanguard of the European invasion of the US in search of vintage vinyl, although there were a few US collectors like the Stolper Brothers hunting around it was mainly a European assault. John turned his love of the music into a business and began importing the US 45s and LPs to England. A preview of what was later to be called the northern soul collecting mania.

John searched the country top to bottom for his records and one day in 1972 he drove into the small town of Miamisburg, Ohio. He cruised down Main Street and sure enough there was an old record shop as there were in most towns across the USA. John found the door locked but finally got to talk to the owner who told him he wasn’t selling his records anymore. He found out that the shop had started in the late ‘40s by the Kondoff family and run by the Mom and Dad and two brothers, George and Chris. The parents passed away and George left but Chris carried on, accumulating a huge amount of vinyl as he refused to return anything. Then he decided to close it up, and he shut it down in 1971. John came back every year during the ‘70s but the answer was always the same, no sale. He finally gave up and went on to easier deals as the country was awash in vintage vinyl in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. The ‘90s started and old music was bigger than ever, with everyone looking for that stash of old vinyl. I met John around that time and he often tortured me with his stories of the days when 45s were 10 cents or less and LPs 25 cents. He mentioned many of his great deals but he also mentioned the ones that got away, including that odd record shop in Ohio. John and I put together many record buys and as we marched into the new century vinyl seemed more popular than ever and harder to find all the time. While reliving the easier days about a year ago I mentioned the old Ohio store again, John thought that it was worth another look so he went by on one of his regular US trips. He found the store just as he last saw it 25 years before except no one was living in it now. He contacted Chris Kondoff’s brother, George, and he told him that his brother had retired and they were going to sell the store and the contents soon. He promised to contact John when that happened and sure enough in about 6 months the lawyer for the estate contacted John and asked him to come make an offer. So off we went to Ohio to look at a store closed for almost 40 years.

You can imagine the excitement as we drove down Main Street in the small town south of Dayton, then there it was just like we expected it, a old building with Popular, Rock, Solid Soul, Bluegrass and Golden Oldies, written in old print on the windows, and they truly were as you can see. When we walked into the shop it was like stepping into the Time Machine, all the LPs on display were from the late ‘60s and the bins were full of vintage ‘50s and ‘60s LPs. Sealed Beatle LPs, all the Rolling Stones, both mono and stereo, Pink Floyd on Tower, also all the Standells on Tower, the Hollies, the Animals, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, it was all there! And from the earlier era, Eddie Cochran’s “Singin To My Baby” on Liberty, the Duals “Stick Shift”, Link Wray and the Rockin Rebels on Swan. Obscure soul Lps, lots of James Brown King Lps, and hundreds of Starday and King country LPS, all sealed or mint.

Then there was the 45s bins loaded with picture sleeves by the Beatles, The Stones, the Yardbirds, the Miracles, Supremes, local garage bands and R&B, County and Rockabilly from the ‘50s. Pinch me hard, I thought I had stepped into a time wrap, Beam Me Up Scotty! But first let’s buy some records!

Since John and I didn’t deal in LPs anymore we brought in Craig Moerer to buy the LPs and we took the 45s and the paper goods.
And what paper goods they were! All the Billboards, Record Worlds, Cashboxes and other lesser known industry magazines of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, A complete history of the evolution of music from the ‘50s era to the hard rock ‘70s. The whole series of musical progressions from the Elvis period, to the Beatles invasion, the psychedelic ‘60s and into the ‘70s funk period. Also all the tragedies of those decades, Buddy Holly, Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. Plus all the record catalogs from the early days on up, Chess, Excello, Motown, etc, all the major (and minor companies). I learned more reading through the industry magazines and company catalogs than I’d ever done before. John Anderson told me the only thing like he’d ever seen like this in all his years in the music business was a guy in the Brill Building had a lot of magazines back in the ‘80s but not this many.

Amazing that they had been able to gather all these in such a remote area and in a small store.

Our wonderful pack rat, Chris Kondoff, also kept all the record company cardboard promo displays. Huge Frank Sinatra cardboard posters, Buddy Holly stand-ups, Johnny Burnette, Jackie Wilson, and the soundtrack to Spartacus, an incredible promotion with about 6 different cardboard posters plus a huge Elvis display of course. Amazing that the record companies put so much money into promotion in those early days, it was very common later in the ‘60s and ‘70s but I hadn’t been aware it was so big in the start of the LP/45 era.

The shop even still had the old listening booths of the old days, where one could take his 45s and decide which ones deserved his 98 cents. Later on you could do it with LPS too but since they were sealed it wasn’t so easy.

Many of the local people stopped by when they saw the door open after so many years and shared their stories of the old days when they bought their first records in the shop. It was fun to hear and interesting to learn how much a part of life in the small town the store was during it’s day. Just looking around the shop it was easy to think of the changes in music and in culture over the last 50 years, the Elvis years, Kennedy’s assassination, the attack of the Beatles, the Hippie scene and most of all the incredible influence music had on all of us through those years. The Last Record Shop, yes I’m afraid so but what a trip it’s been!

Hey, maybe I’ll see you at the Austin Record Show in October.

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2 Responses to “The Biggest Record Show in the World. The Last Record Store.”

  1. Allen L. Jones Says:

    I like so many of my generation that was born and raised in Miamisburg, bought lots of 45RPM’s from Kondoff’s Record Shop in the late 50’s Early 60’s. I am a 1963 Graduate of Miamisburg High School.

    I joined the U.S. Navy just before I graduated and served two tours in Vietnam. While on R & R in Sasebo, Japan I bought component stereo equipment and had it shipped home. When I got out of the Navy in May of 1967 and returned home I needed to have my turntable put together and the needle tracking adjusted. Chris offered to do this for me which he did a great job. He refused to take any money for his work and told me that it was a gift for a Vietnam Vet. I have never forgetten him as he was one a just a few people who even took the time to recognize a Vet.

    I currently live in N. FT Myers, FL and plan to come back this coming June, 2008 for our 45th Class Reunion and Alumni Dinner/Dance. I will, as I always do, take a stroll up and down Miamisburg’s Main Street and Remember the “Good OLe Days.”

    I would love to tour the old Record Shop but it sounds like it is gone like so many good things of our youth. By the way I still have all my 45’s.

    Allen L. Jones

  2. Ben Says:

    Allen, I’m of a different generation, but I started collecting records while I was in the Corps at Camp LeJeune. But you are right, even though there are some record shops, they are far and few between, It’s tough to find a good place that’s close.

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