Thursday, April 07, 2005

Memorable Record Stores:
Reader's Corner, Raleigh NC

Note: This is the first in what will be a regular series of record store memories. Look for other Ding Gua Gua members to also share with you their own memories of record stores all over the world.

The Reader's Corner
3201 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27607
(919) 828-702

I was very pleased to do a web search and learn that Raleigh's The Reader's Corner is still in business (as Reader's Corner Incorporated). It's one of those hole-in-the-wall, used bookstores that every city has several of. The shelves and floor haven't been thoroughly cleaned for decades because it would be too much of a project to move all of the books out. It wouldn't be unexpected to see somebody's dog or cat roaming around. Above all, there are books packing every square corner of the mismatched shelves, floor, and front counter. Expect to hear Flapper era or folk music playing over the stereo, but don't be surprised to also hear Oldies 100.7 or WRDU Classic Rock either (are these stations even playing those formats anymore?).

One memorable feature of the Reader's Corner, which I hope is still true, is that they would leave the dregs of their "warehouse" (a half-toppled shed out back) neatly shelved in front of their building 24/7 for anybody to stop by, browse, and purchase by slipping a little change under the door. I think they donated any cash earned to the local public radio station. There was always at least one bin of records out there as well, containing such gems as a Henry Winkler album, the D.C. Cab Original Soundtrack, or Pac Man Fever. Since so many of my friends lived right across the street in the Wilmot Apartments, it was always a pleasant field trip to take when looking for a break in the party.

As a high school kid who was beginning to take to record shopping, this was one of my first touring stops because it was conveniently located, kept great hours, offered extremely affordable merchanidise, and kept a steady flow of interesting records sold by longtime Raleigh music fans who were looking to thin out their library for one reason or another. Things got really interesting at one point in the early 90s when they made a huge score of records from some auction. For a while they were regularly carting out tons of cool stuff from that shack, and once even let me poke around back there.

There are two Reader's Corner finds that stick out in my mind:
1) Best of Ralph Records sampler, which introduced me to Renaldo and the Loaf and The Art Bears. My girlfriend at the time probably never forgave them for this.
2) Kraftwerk's Autobahn, which I mainly bought because I had heard "The Model" from Man Machine and thought it was stupid and because I thought Autobahn's cover was funny. I quickly learned that this record was no laughing matter.

Please pay them a visit the next time you're in Raleigh.


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