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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

1950s Record Store

1950s Record Store

Interior of the Holiday Shop record and camera store at the Roeland Park Shopping Center in Roeland Park, Kansas. View full size. [A fascinating member-submitted photo. Just the thing for a Saturday night. Like a number of the commenters below, I would place the date here around 1950-51. - Dave]

Browsing Boxes

The "browser boxes" seen below in the "Record Shop" comment were created by Capitol Records' Fred Rice. His team brought the records in music and department stores out from behind the counter to self-service displays that let the customer leaf through the albums and see the covers. Counter-service stores would normally place them with the spines facing out as shown in the main photo above.

Frank Luther Record Player

This Billboard Magazine from December 9, 1950 has an ad for the player on Page 15 (upper right):

The Record Shop

Here is a nice pic of the local record store circa 1954, named fittingly, The Record Shop. It closed sometime in the 1970's. They also sold audio gear and had a service center in the basement, which the service center remains. One of the original repair techs took over the service center and he's still there servicing.

Harry James

Hi there. Nice picture! I happen to own a copy of the Harry James 10" depicted in the photograph: "Your Dance Date With Harry James" (Columbia CL 6138). It's dated 1950, so my guess would be 1950 too.

Love your site.

Record Store Update

This is the Holiday Shop record and camera store at the Roeland Park Shopping Center in Roeland Park, Kansas.

Counter Kids

What exactly are the people at the counter doing? Did you have to pick out the record you wanted from a list or something, and the clerk would retrieve it?

[Or she would order it for you. - Dave]

7-inch discs

Those boxes on the revolving Capitol rack, as well as on the right side of two shelves behind the counter, do indeed contain 7" 45rpm discs, but they're albums, not "singles." Eventually the 45rpm format came to be used exclusively for singles, but initially it was also used for complete multi-disc albums, duplicating the contents of a standard 78rpm album. This was when the RCA/Columbia format war was still underway.

45rpm singles were always issued in paper sleeves, just like their 78rpm counterparts. The thin items on the left side of the two shelves behind the counter are 78 singles. You see a small section of 7" singles on the shelf behind the hand of the customer on the left.

Edith Piaf

The Piaf discography includes dozens of releases on American labels in the 1950s.

[Below on the left, "Chansons Parisiennes" from 1949, an early Columbia Microgroove (LP) release. At right is the one in the photo -- "Edith Piaf Sings," Columbia ML-2603, a 1951 release. - Dave]

Another Soon!

I'll put up another record store photo soon. I'm a little busy right now so hopefully by this coming Wednesday. Thanks for the nice comments and information.

The next one has Frank Sinatra!

-John

[We can hardly wait! And you know what would be great, if possible, is a higher-resolution scan of the record-store photo, and whatever you can tell us about it. What might be written on the back, for example. It has caused quite a stir. - Dave]

Newfangled Singles

On the right of the counter, that revolving rack of Capitol singles in boxes really takes me back. This was when 7-inch microgroove (long-playing) records were new and different. They did that for just a few years before going to paper sleeves.

Time Travel

Amazing. Photos like this make me wish time travel was a reality. I would love to insert myself into this scene and go wandering around that bright and shiny place.

But for now, photos like this one are a pretty good substitute.

Don't suppose anyone knows the name and/or location of this particular shop? I wonder how long it remained a record store? Was it there when Elvis hit the scene a few years later? The Beatles? U2?

Excellent photo and thank you for sharing it!

Or is it Memorex?

Despite my husband's insistence, I must say, this photograph, well, the photo itself is lovely; too lovely. Something about it doesn't set right with me. I am not sure if it is the fit of the dungarees of the guy on the right, the girl's shoes, the fact that the kid's victrola is locked in the showcase yet the expensive reel to reel sits right out in the open. or maybe it is the streamlined look of the counter and wall, or the way the high up pictures are displayed, and their subject matter. Could one have gotten by us?

[No. Page through a 1950 House Beautiful or the LOC's Gottscho-Schleiser archive. This is that, on the nose. Below: 1951 music store, 1957 record department, 1951 radio showroom. The tape recorder is where it is so it can be demonstrated to customers. UPDATE: This is the Holiday Shop record and camera store at the Roeland Park Shopping Center in Roeland Park, Kansas. - Dave]

Allmusic

Looking at the Hal McIntyre and Harry James records on the top row, I'd say 1950. The first band only released two albums, the second being "Dance Date" in 1950. Harry James cranked out a bunch, but I find one in 1950 called "Your Dance Date" which can be decoded from what I see in the picture. Both were released on Columbia, BTW.

The pictures at the top intrigue me as well. Part of me suspects that they are from old calendars.

[The pictures along the top are examples of photo studio work. Meaning this could have been a record-camera store. - Dave]

Der Bingle

The Shorpy sleuths seem to be correct [again] as to the vintage of the photo -- in our basement stash of records is the album "Christmas Greetings" on the Decca label from 1949 -- Bing Crosby with the Andrew Sisters, a 3 record set. If this were late 1949, the shoppers as dressed here would seemingly be from a Southern state. For what it's worth, in my small hometown in 1952, I was the first to buy a reel to reel tape recorder, a RCA model similar to the Ampro shown for about $125 if I remember correctly, and still it have in A1 shape. A friend of the mine had an Ampro wire recorder.

Edith Piaf

I'm not surprised in seeing the Doris Day and Bing Crosby records on the wall on the right, but I am a little shocked that Edith Piaf features on that wall.

Though she was massively popular in France and in French Canada in the 50's, I had no idea she was known in the USA... let alone be popular enough to be displayed in a prominent spot like that.

Can we see a close-up of the other records to see the other artists?

Frank Luther and 10-in. LPs

Wow! A great nostalgia photo! The first records I ever "owned" when I was a tiny lad were very small 78rpm items that featured Frank Luther singing children's songs. One nonsense ditty that sticks out in my mind began "A frog he would a-courting go, 'Hi-Ho' says Toady; The cat, the rat and little froggy, with a roly-poly gammon and spinach, 'Hi-Ho' says Anthony Toady."

As for those 10-inch 33-1/3 RPM Columbia records...I had almost forgotten that such things existed. I had quite a few, mostly featuring the Boston Pops orchestra.

[There were also 7-inch 33-1/3 discs, as we can see on the left. - Dave]

Photo At Upper Left

Great pic not just for the record collectors but audio hobbyists like me. But what is that thing in the photo at upper left? I've zoomed in it and I still am not sure what to make of it.

Edith Piaf

I can't add anything definitive since I don't know which Edith Piaf album that is on the rack, but the little inset photo on the album cover is the famous Piaf photo taken in 1948. That seems to jibe with the assumed 1950 date.

No. 1 on my hit parade

What a fantastic image! This store is so cool and serene; it's hard to believe record stores would change so much over the next twenty years. I have so many questions about this photo. Where was it taken? Can anybody identify the children's record player in the display case on the left? What's the story behind the photos displayed high on the wall? (They don't seem to have anything to do with musicians or records.)

I'm adding this photo to my list of Shorpy all-time favorites.

[That's a Frank Luther record player. Frank was a country singer who also did kiddie songs. Check out John's other photos. I especially like Lunch on the Pennsy. - Dave]

LPs

Looked up a couple of albums from the rack. Went by the cover design since I couldn't make out very much of the text. Doris Day did Tea for Two in 1950. Bing Crosby's Christmas album was from 1949.

Couldn't find a manufacturer's name on the tape deck. Looks like it went for 109 and change. Checked a dollar inflation conversion table, and that 109 circa 1950 would be 938 in current dollars.

[The manufacturer, whose name can be seen upside down in the lid, is Ampro. - Dave]

The Record Store

This is a great photo...seems to be from a pretty-good-sized negative, given the detail coming across on the scan.

I would concur with "Anonymous Tipster" that it's a bit earlier than 1955. She/he is correct about the datings for the 10-inch LPs on the right. Plus, the Columbia 33 rpm LP was a brand-new technology in 1948, and so the stuff at the left of the photo to play the "new LPs" wouldn't have been any big deal in by 1955.

But then, I was surprised that there was any sort of consumer reel-to-reel on the market just then (left of photo; $109 = serious money); I would have expected that a few years later.

But, lots of fun nonetheless. Given that the Christmas records are on display, I guess we can assume it's late in the year.

[This was scanned from a print. Below, a newspaper ad from October 1950 for the Ampro-Tape recorder shown in the photo, at the same price. - Dave]

Records?

Records? What's a "record"?

1950s Record Store

A great photo. I would date it at 1950. On the right are a dozen or so 10-inch Columbia LP's released that year, then re-released around 1955 as 12-inch discs.

 
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