Record shop

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A record shop in The Hague, Netherlands Free Record Shop.jpg
A record shop in The Hague, Netherlands
A stand-alone record shop in Houston, Texas MemosRecordShop1.JPG
A stand-alone record shop in Houston, Texas
Record shops also host musical performances, especially on Record Store Day: Magnapop are pictured here playing at an American store in 1994, with flyers for their album Hot Boxing visible in the background Linda Hopper and Ruthie Morris 1994 02.jpg
Record shops also host musical performances, especially on Record Store Day: Magnapop are pictured here playing at an American store in 1994, with flyers for their album Hot Boxing visible in the background

A record shop or record store is a retail outlet that sells recorded music. In the late 19th century and the early 20th century, record shops only sold gramophone records, but over the 20th century, record shops sold the new formats that were developed, such as eight track tapes, compact cassettes and compact discs (CDs). Today in the 21st century, record stores sell CDs, vinyl records and in some cases, DVDs of movies, TV shows, cartoons and concerts. Some record stores also sell music-related items such as posters of bands or singers and even clothing and items such as bags and coffee mugs.

Retail is the process of selling consumer goods or services to customers through multiple channels of distribution to earn a profit. Retailers satisfy demand identified through a supply chain. The term "retailer" is typically applied where a service provider fills the small orders of a large number of individuals, who are end-users, rather than large orders of a small number of wholesale, corporate or government clientele. Shopping generally refers to the act of buying products. Sometimes this is done to obtain final goods, including necessities such as food and clothing; sometimes it takes place as a recreational activity. Recreational shopping often involves window shopping and browsing: it does not always result in a purchase.

Sound recording and reproduction recording of sound and playing it back

Sound recording and reproduction is an electrical, mechanical, electronic, or digital inscription and re-creation of sound waves, such as spoken voice, singing, instrumental music, or sound effects. The two main classes of sound recording technology are analog recording and digital recording.

Music form of art using sound and silence

Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.


Even in the heyday of the CD during the 1990s, people in English-speaking countries still used the term "record shop" to describe a shop selling sound recordings such as CDs. Now that vinyl records have had a resurgence in the 21st century, often generating more income than CDs, the name has come full circle and is relevant once more.

Modern era

United Kingdom

Prior to the 2000s, more record shops were privately run, independent businesses, meaning that prices could differ from town to town and store to store. In the 2000s, record shops are largely chain-owned and thus prices are fairly similar in different towns. In the United Kingdom the national chain style of selling records and tapes developed with Our Price, itself originally a small independent business founded in the early 1970s that expanded nationwide.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Our Price was a chain of record stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 1971 until 2004.

Current major chains include HMV, Fopp, Rough Trade, Virgin Megastores, Tower Records, FYE, Sam Goody, Velvet Music, Sunrise Records, Plato, Amoeba Music and Rasputin Music. The enormous increase in sales of vinyl records in the 2000s has provided an opportunity for growth in some sectors. The flagship HMV store at 363 Oxford Street in London, for example, has a whole department for new vinyl LPs and singles. According to a recent study, Brighton, England has the highest number of record stores per 100,000 residents in the world.

Fopp (retailer) Scottish chain of retail stores selling music, film, books, etc.

Fopp is a British chain of retail stores selling music, film, books and other entertainment products in the United Kingdom. It is owned by HMV.

Rough Trade (shops) independent record shops

Rough Trade is a group of independent record shops in the UK and the US with headquarters in London, UK.

Virgin Megastores company

Virgin Megastores is an international entertainment retailing chain, founded in early 1976 by (Sir) Richard Branson as a record shop on London's Oxford Street.

United States

With the demise of chains such as Sam Goody and Tower Records in the 2000s, there remained no national retail chains focused on sales of recorded music, although music sales continued in dedicated sections of video stores (until their demise) and at big box retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target. Record retailers today are independent retailers or at most, small regional chains catering to a niche audience.


Spillers Records in Cardiff, Wales, founded in 1894 by Henry Spiller, is reputed to be the oldest record shop in the world. [1] It originally specialised in the sale of phonographs, cylinders and shellac discs.

Spillers Records

Spillers Records, established in 1894, is recognised as the oldest record shop in the world. It is located in Cardiff, Wales. In addition to selling music, it is the city's main location for buying tickets for alternative music concerts.

Cardiff Capital and largest city of Wales

Cardiff is the capital of Wales and its largest city. The eleventh-largest city in the United Kingdom, it is Wales's chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural institutions and Welsh media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. At the 2011 census, the unitary authority area population was estimated to be 346,090, and the wider urban area 479,000. Cardiff is a significant tourist centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 21.3 million visitors in 2017. In 2011, Cardiff was ranked sixth in the world in National Geographic's alternative tourist destinations.

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

Shellac and then vinyl records were popular right up to the 1990s when CDs became the most popular form of recorded music. Soon, however, mail order and internet selling caused prices to fall, and with the advent of downloads and streaming, many record shops were forced to close. The renaissance of Vinyl records has however increased income for record shops, and indeed many new record shops and even chains of record shops have opened.

Major chains in the UK and North America that have closed in recent years are Our Price, Zavvi, The Wherehouse, Andys Records, Music and Video Club and Media Play. HMV have closed all stores in North America and Ireland, although still present in the UK. Virgin Records have closed all stores in North America and Europe. Tower Records has closed all stores in North America. Rough Trade is, however, currently expanding, with two shops in London, one in Cambridge, one Megastore in New York and plans to further expand.

Andys Records was a UK music retailer that traded from 1969 to 2003. Based in Bury St. Edmunds, its roots were in nearby Felixstowe and Cambridge.

Music and Video Club

Music and Video Club or MVC was a British entertainment retailer which sold DVDs, VHS, audio cassettes, video games, and CDs of popular and specialist titles. At its peak, the company operated 82 stores in the United Kingdom, and also sold products over the Internet. The company closed in January 2006, after entering into administration.

Media Play was a chain of retail stores founded in 1992 by Musicland that sold movies on video, DVDs, music, electronics, video games, books, and games in the United States. Each store essentially contained a book store, a movie store, a music store, and a video game store under one roof. At their height, they operated 72 stores in 19 states with 2,000 employees. The first store opened in Rockford, Illinois, in 1992. Hundreds of stores were slated to be opened, but only 89 ever were. Media Play opened stores from 1992 to 2000.

Current record shop chains in Europe are now HMV (UK), Tower Records (Ireland), Free Record shop (Luxembourg: complete stores, Netherlands: shop-in shop), Velvet Music, Plato, (both Netherlands) and Golden Discs (Ireland). Record shop chains still present in North America include Sunrise Records (Canada), FYE, Sam Goody and Rough Trade (all USA). Outside of Europe and North America, the current record store chains include Virgin Megastores, HMV and Tower Records.

German record shop (1988) Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F079073-0006, Bonn, Sternstrasse, Schallplattengeschaft.jpg
German record shop (1988)

HMV in Oxford Street, London, England claims to be the world's largest record shop. The store was originally opened in 1921 by the composer Sir Edward Elgar and has four floors of CDs, LPs, singles and DVDs. During the ‘60s, the in-store recording studio was used by Brian Epstein to record The Beatles first demo Read more at revamped store was reopened in 2013 attended by many of the world's biggest stars including Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams and Elton John. The largest record shop in Ireland is Tower Records in Dublin, the largest in Asia is Tower Records, Shibuya Tokio, and the largest in the USA is Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. The largest record shop in the Nordic countries is Bengans in Goteborg, Sweden, which opened in 1974.

In some countries, electronics stores and department store chains have very large, comprehensive CD departments which now also sell vinyl records. These include Saturn, Media Markt and FNAC (Europe) and Corte Inglés (Spain). Saturn in Cologne, Germany claims to now have the world's largest selection of records. The world's largest store selling records, CDs and other related and non-related products is Saturn in Hamburg, Germany. This former department store is the world's largest electronic retailer with 6 floors selling consumer products related to music and electric appliances including record players.

Record stores played a vital role in African American communities for many decades. In the 1960s and 1970s, between 500 and 1,000 black-owned record stores operated in the American South, and probably twice as many in the United States as a whole. African American entrepreneurs embraced record stores as key vehicles for economic empowerment and critical public spaces for black consumers at a time that many black-owned businesses were closing amid desegregation. [2]

Used market

Second hand record store in Spain (2016) Feria del Disco de Coleccionista en Barcelona (Abril 2016) 02.jpg
Second hand record store in Spain (2016)

In addition to shops that sell new products, many record shops specialize in second hand, vintage or used collectible records, which they purchase from the public or other dealers, and sell for a profit. Some used record stores also sell used CDs and DVD movies. It is not uncommon for such shops to contain several items priced in the hundreds or thousands of US dollars (or local equivalent) due to their rarity, as well as items that are fairly common for much less. This type of record shop has also faced fierce competition from Internet sites like eBay, where people can sell their own records and avoid "the middle man". Some pawnshops sell used CDs.

Independent stores

In many countries including the UK and the U.S., the specialty record store business is booming with hundreds opening from 2013 to 2016. The County of Los Angeles currently has more independent record stores than any other county in the U.S. with over 50 stores ranging from Amoeba Music in Hollywood (which bills itself as the "world's largest independent record store") to The Record Parlour, the only record store where patrons can purchase, produce and perform music. [3]

Other shops often combine records with other related items. For example record buyers often stay for many hours in a shop, so a coffee bar is often available for tired customers. Hungry customers can, for example, enjoy a large selection of warm pies at "Pie & Vinyl" in Southsea, England. In Palma de Mallorca there is a record shop with a wine bar. [4]

See also

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ParknShop is one of the two largest supermarket chains in Hong Kong, the other being Wellcome. ParknShop operates more than 300 outlets in Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China.

Amoeba Music

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Big-box store physically large retail establishment

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Sam Goody was a music and entertainment retailer in the United States and United Kingdom, operated by The Musicland Group inc. It was purchased by Best Buy in 2000, sold to Sun Capital in 2003, and filed for bankruptcy in 2006, closing most of its stores. The remaining stores were purchased by Trans World Entertainment which also runs FYE, Saturday Matinee, and Suncoast Motion Picture Company. It specialized in music, video, and video game sales. In 2008 Trans World converted most Sam Goody stores into FYE, though some still operate under the Sam Goody name.

The Musicland Group, Inc. was an entertainment company that ran Musicland, Sam Goody, Discount Records, Suncoast Motion Picture Company, OnCue, and the Media Play Superstore Chains. The Musicland Group was purchased by Best Buy in 2001 at the height of Musicland's success, which ultimately led to its demise. Jack Eugster was the CEO of The Musicland Group, from 1980, until February 2001. Its headquarters were in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Second-hand shop shop which sells goods that are not new

A second-hand shop is a shop which sells goods that are not new.

Zavvi (retailer) UK-based entertainment retail chain

Zavvi is an ecommerce entertainment retail store formed from the now defunct Zavvi entertainment retail chain in the United Kingdom and Ireland, originally Virgin Megastores. Zavvi was formed in September 2007 when a management buy-out team purchased the company from Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group.

Virgin Megastores was a retail chain that operated in the United Kingdom from 1971 to 2007. The company was established by Richard Branson, originally as a small record shop, and became a national chain. In 2007, the company was sold to management, and was rebranded as Zavvi. Zavvi entered administration in 2008 and subsequently closed.


  1. "Spillers Records, Cardiff - About Spillers" . Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  2. Joshua Clark Davis, "For the Records: How African American Consumers and Music Retailers Created Commercial Public Space in the 1960s and 1970s South," Southern Cultures, Winter 2011
  3. "The Record Parlour" . Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  4. "La viniloteca" (in Spanish). Retrieved 31 July 2019.

Further reading