Almighty Press

October 13, 2005
Record Alley remodels

by Michelle Theriault - Desert Sun

Don Chappell fondly recalls being a teenager 22 years ago, having a little money in his pocket and riding a bike over to see owner Jim Stephens at The Record Alley in downtown Palm Springs.

"He'd have the new releases, and he'd have stuff that nobody else would have," said Chappell, a Palm Springs resident and longtime customer who now has a collection of more than 700 vinyl records.

It seems some things never change.

"Now my kids go there, and I still collect vinyl," Chappell said of the family's almost weekly trips to The Record Alley, which is now located on the lower level of Westfield Palm Desert shopping center.

As hundreds of independent record stores nationwide shut their doors, The Record Alley has optimistically signed a 10-year lease and has embarked on a $100,000-plus renovation.

Stephens and his wife, Michelle, believe investing that much to remodel their store will improve merchandising, boost inventory and keep loyal customers coming back at a time when big-box discounters and online competition are squeezing the mom-and-pop record stores.

"It was time," Jim Stephens said of the nearly 30-year-old independent record store's remodeling effort, which includes new carpet, sleek metallic walls and a stylish, revamped entryway.

"We'll be constantly reinventing the store over the next few years," said the Stephenses, both Palm Springs natives who feels fortunate to have turned their love of music into lifelong careers.

Jim Stephens opened his record shop in 1978 in downtown Palm Springs and later moved to the mall, all the time steadily building a loyal customer base.

The store will continue to set itself apart by relying heavily on longtime employees such as Dale Myers, whose wealth of knowledge about music is reason enough for many customers to frequent the store.

"I'm getting ready for my 11th Christmas," Myers said as he answered another customer's phone inquiry.

Heather Pitts is a two-year employee and musician who plays her own mix of rock and folk songs and enjoys meeting so many valley music lovers.

The Record Alley employees' collective knowledge about hip-hop, rock, jazz and other music genres complement one another, Jim Stephens said.

Myers and Pitts are among younger employees helping to usher in a new look and feel for The Record Alley. The store will maintain its vast selection of new and used vinyl records, CDs and DVDs, but employees are helping add other music-related merchandise, from Rolling Stones ashtrays to Pink Floyd visors and Depeche Mode T-shirts.

Jim Stephens will continue focusing his attention on finding a big selection of music from specialized distributors.

"I've always felt that if somebody asks for something, we just get it," he said. "Our biggest attribute is our selection. We carry underground music on CD as well as vinyl."

Oftentimes, that means selling new bands' music before many people have ever heard of them.

"I remember selling Metallica's first record years before they signed to Electra," Jim Stephens said.

By analyzing trends and keeping close tabs on the industry, The Record Alley has stood the test of time as other record stores have fallen by the wayside in the Coachella Valley.

"In the beginning, it was only the small mom-and-pops, but then in 1984, Wherehouse (Records) opened and chain stores became my biggest competition," Jim Stephens said.

Nowadays, the biggest competition comes from big-box stores that sell CDs at low prices and from legal and illegal downloading. In the past three years, some 900 independent stores have gone out of business, according to the Almighty Institute of Music Retail, a Studio City-based market research company.

CD sales dipped 25 percent between 1999 and 2005, according to the Washington, D.C.-based trade group Record Industry Association of America. Even big names such as Musicland Holding Corp. and Tower Records have seen hard times.

The Record Alley is aggressively stocking up and looking ahead to the future. It has even begun selling baby clothes, and response has been good, Jim Stephens said.

"Picture your baby in Bob Marley onesies," he said.

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Article List

November 21, 2013 - New York Times - Records Are Dying? Not Here

March 27, 2013 - Glendale News-Press - It's a matter of record: Burbank's Atomic Records and Backside

December 30, 2012 - Detroit News - As one record shop closes, vinyl music plays on in another

April 20, 2012 - - New vinyl album releases give record stores a kick

November 20, 2011 - - In an iTunes age, do we need the record store?

June 9, 2011 - - Curmudgeon Records closes its doors for good

April 16, 2011 - Wall Street Journal - One-Day Record-Store Revival

February 1, 2011 - Charlottesville News & Arts - Plan 9 Changes Location

August 13, 2010 - The Tennesean - Anita Wadhwani: Nashville indie record stores' sales spin in right direction

January 3, 2010 - Delaware News Journal - Delaware music shops get creative to compete with downloads, chain music stores

September 24, 2009 - Los Angeles Times - L.A. independent record shop is still in a groove

August 20, 2009 - CNN Money - You can make money off online music

June 14, 2009 - New York Times - Retailing Era Closes With Music Megastore

May 13, 2009 - Medill Reports - Resurgence in vinyl helps record store in recession

April 26, 2009 - Los Angeles Times - In a digital age, vinyl albums are making a comeback

April 18, 2009 - Charlotte Observer - Record stores band together

April 17, 2009 - Detroit News - Record Store Day spins profits and good beats at Metro Detroit shops

April 17, 2009 - Associated Press - Record Store Day celebrates indie retailers

April 10, 2009 - Detroit News - Street Corner Music moving to Oak Park plaza

April 10, 2009 - Toledo Free Press - New record store shakes up Adams Street

January 8, 2009 - OC Register - Closing date for Virgin Megastore at The Block

October 28, 2008 - Reuters - AC/DC back in "Black" with global smash

September 23, 2008 - Chicago Daily Herald - Independent music stores haven't yet disappeared from suburbia

June 23, 2008 - New York Times - For Tom Petty Fans, the True Sound of Vinyl, Also Captured on a CD

April 19, 2008 - Lafayette Journal Courier - For some, record stores live on

April 19, 2008 - New Jersey Star Ledger - It's Record Store Day. Play it again, Sam!

April 18, 2008 - New York Times - Record Stores Fight to Be Long-Playing

April 18, 2008 - Dallas Morning News - Retailers hope Record Store Day turns up volume at mom-and-pop shops

April 16, 2008 - Timeout New York - Platter Up

December 27, 2007 - Los Angeles Times - Virgin Megastore to close shop

December 16, 2007 - New York Times - For a "Dinosaur," an Exuberant Second Life (Looney Tunes Reopens)

December 3, 2007 - Detroit Free Press - The same old song: Music store closing

November 7, 2007 - Washington Post - Eagles soar past Britney to top of charts

November 4, 2007 - The Ledger - Two Young Entrepreneurs Unafraid of Risk of Going on Records

August 20, 2007 - Billboard - Almighty Taps Hans As VP

June 29, 2007 - ABC News - Long Live the Record Store

June 28, 2007 - Orange County Weekly - Locals Only

June 13, 2007 - Reuters - McCartney's Starbucks album heats up U.S. charts

June 9, 2007 - Billboard - Commentary: Retail Recovery

May 9, 2007 - Columbia Free Times - High Fidelity

March 22, 2007 - NARM Awards - Almighty Retail Named NARM Related Supplier Finalist For Third Consecutive Year

March 16, 2007 - Chortler - Shout! Factory Has Revamped Its Website

March 9, 2007 - - Internet killed the record store?

March 4, 2007 - Sacramento Bee - New groove for Solomon

February 28, 2007 - USA Today - Exclusives aim to pull music fans into stores

February 28, 2007 - New York Newsday - Latin record shops thrive despite changes in music business

February 23, 2007 - Montpelier Bridge - Buch Spieler Sails On Despite a Music Industry Decline

November 20, 2006 - Austin 360 - In Austin, Niche Indies Rule

October 20, 2006 - Sacramento Bee - Tower brand could survive

October 15, 2006 - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Tables have turned on record stores

October 14, 2006 - Sacramento Bee - Small labels lose valuable ally in Tower

October 6, 2006 - Desert Sun - Record Alley remodels

September 27, 2006 - Music & Copyright - Niche Marketing of CD albums continues to rise in the US and Physical Sales overall decline

September 22, 2006 - - Indie stores confront a new era

September 19, 2006 - New York Newsday - 34 years, and that's not all, folks

August 18, 2006 - The Roanoke Times - Plan 9 Music puts new spin on 5 Record Exchange stores

August 3, 2006 - The Hollywood Reporter - Nervous music retailers face hazy digital future

July 16, 2006 - New York Times - The Graying of the Record Store

July 13, 2006 - Rolling Stone - The iTunes Holdouts

July 11, 2006 - Roanoke Times - Record store's "last dance"

July 5, 2006 - Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader - Quimper Sound moves, expands to change with times

June 6, 2006 - Billboard - NARM Nominations Announced

May 10, 2006 - Detroit MetroTimes - Out of the Groove

March 18, 2006 - Billboard - Indies in a bind

January 16, 2006 - Los Angeles Business Journal - Slipped Discs

January 6, 2006 - Los Angeles Times - Indie record stores doing slow fade out

December 26, 2005 - Los Angeles Times - The Music Stops for Indie Shop

December 1, 2005 - Rolling Stone - Fall Sales Dry Up

October 13, 2005 - Desert Sun - Music snobs rejoice: Independent record stores still thrive in desert

September 12, 2005 - Salt Lake Tribune - Twilight for Starbound Records

August 18, 2005 - New York Post - Oldies are now singing a new tune - Music stores go digital

July 2005 - Rolling Stone - Record Biz Still Sinking

June 18, 2005 - Billboard - NARM Noms Announced

March 21, 2005 - CMJ - Hart of the Matter

February 16, 2005 - MSN - Genius Loves Company

October 12, 2004 - Rolling Stone - Wal-Mart wants $10 CDs

July 10, 2004 - Billboard - Almighty Institute To The Rescue

January 14, 2004 - Creative Loafing Charlotte - Manifest Destiny

December 29, 2003 - New York Times - on the rise of mass marketers

November 13, 2003 - Rolling Stone - Best Buy snags rights to band's new DVD

October 9, 2003 - USA Today - Best Buy wins sales rights to Rolling Stones DVD box set

October 6, 2003 - Reuters - Stones Paint It Black For Retailers

May 31, 2003 - Billboard - Retail Track

May 9, 2003 - Hits - Rerap

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