Clearwater Record Store (Tampa Bay, FL)

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Hello and welcome to Record Store Spotlight; a new column here on Dying Scene dedicated to an institution almost as American as apple pie and unbridled capitalism – the record store!

Today I’m going to focus on one of my favorite local stores, the Clearwater Record Shop. Nestled in the middle of my hometown (a city well known for being the headquarters of the Church of Scientology), the Clearwater Record Shop stands out from other record stores with its focus on used music. Rather than relying on distributors to supply new releases, owner Casey Brown has spent years building up his inventory, one record collection acquisition at a time. The store, which spans two interconnected warehouse spaces, has one of the most extensive selections of used CDs I’ve ever seen. At each visit, I leave with a stack of jewelry boxes a few meters high. It’s easy to get carried away when you come across hundreds of bins overflowing with discs, the majority of which are only $3.75 each (or six for $20!).

Of course, it’s hard to beat the ease and convenience of shopping online. But the Clearwater Record Shop goes hand-in-hand with Discogs awards, and I find most of the time they’re on top. Plus, I’ve yet to find a more enjoyable way to kill a few hours on my day off than flipping through thousands of records and CDs, looking for worthwhile additions to my collection. It’s a visceral experience that can’t be matched while browsing an online marketplace. Find a record like The Clash battle rock for $15, and not having to wait forever for the USPS to deliver it, is icing on the cake. My only complaint about this store is that the selection is literally overwhelming. If you’re on a budget, you might need to be a little picky as your stack grows.

During the colder months (yes, we sometimes have those here in Florida), the Clearwater Record Shop hosts monthly exchanges. Local record collectors and sellers are encouraged to set up tables in the parking lot to sell their wares. These events are a great meeting place for the community and are a winter and spring highlight for me. The first time we went I bought a few records including the Buzzcocks Another kind of voltage ($10) and Billy Joel’s songs in the attic ($5), plus a bunch of one-dollar CDs by the likes of the Ramones, Ozzy, and Megadeth.

It is always a pleasure to shop at this store. Casey is very friendly and has created something really special here. The store has a unique and inviting old school vibe. The selection is great, and the prices are fair. Your dollar goes a lot further here than at most record stores.

If you ever find yourself in the Tampa Bay area, I highly recommend stopping by the Clearwater Record Shop. With two air-conditioned warehouses jam-packed with nothing but music, music and more music, you’re bound to stumble upon something to suit your fancy. Or, if you’re lacking in self-control like me, you’ll probably walk away with a mountain of stuff that fits your cravings.

For more information, check out the store’s website and follow them on Instagram.

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