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Monday, December 10, 2007

Music: 52.5 Records -- Charleston's Best Record Store

As some of you may know, Cletus and I were in Charleston, South Carolina last week. Across from our hotel was a large record store called Millennium Records. Millennium seems like it was started by someone who saw the movie Empire Records and opened a store to impress Robin Tunney, yet has no real appreciation for music. Most of the stock in the cavernous aisles seemed like castoffs from the acres of small college record stores that folded between 1993-1998. Multiple copies of Blind Melon, Juliana Hatfield, and Toad the Wet Sprocket abound, tons of lame-o CD singles (especially the one song college radio promo type) and a few token bits of "cool" vinyl thrown in. According to their iPod centric website they were voted Charleston's best music store. Say what?

I asked the cool looking clerk where the good record store in town was and she looked around dubiously before telling me "There is a place called 52.5, but it's weird."Do tell! "It's a lot smaller than this..." she said doubtfully. After procuring directions to 561 King Street location I set out to see what Charleston had to offer.

52.5 was simply one of the best record stores around anywhere -- well stocked, intelligent, with a great side selection of interesting DVD's (music and non-music) books and zines. All in all, this would have been the envy of Greenwich Village back when the rents were payable by actual people. I found a wealth of great discs at very good prices (4 CD Hank Williams set for $25!), both new and used. The proprietor Clay was on hand and the personal touch was a reminder of how vital and important these stores are. They also had as small area set up for performances in the back. As their website says: "Our goal has always been to provide a good selection of music, focusing on artists outside of the commercial mainstream. While we don’t exclude artists based on commercial success, a hit on the radio certainly doesn’t guarantee a space on our shelves."

I highly recommend a visit when in Charleston, and Charlestonians -- vote for this store!

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