Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Record Stores


Photo (c) 2017, Robert C Trube

I saw this scene yesterday at our local Barnes & Noble and it brought back memories of the hours I spent as a teenager bent over bins of LPs at record stores around Youngstown. I find it amazing that vinyl is making a comeback–I think they were devoting more space to vinyl than to CD’s in this store. They said back in the late 1980’s that vinyl was dead. It has apparently experienced a resurrection. Actually for years, I’ve known people who prefer the sound of vinyl, including a number of young listeners. And I’ve picked up some great recordings in used record stores–yes, you can still sometimes find me over those record bins! It appears that CD’s are on the ropes as people either download or stream music they want to listen to digitally.

Perhaps the place to go for records at one time was Record Rendezvous in downtown Youngstown on W. Federal Street. This was the place where you could go and listen to music before you bought it, particularly on 45’s, and some LP’s. They advertised regularly in the Vindicator as I recall, with lists of the top 10 hits. As I understand it, they were part of a chain of Record Rendezvous stores in northeast Ohio. From a Vindicator obituary, I learned there was also a Record Rendezvous in Niles.

I have to admit, I didn’t shop there regularly personally. When I was downtown, I was usually at work at McKelvey’s, later Higbee’s, and they had a decent record department up on the fifth floor during the time I worked there, and I could use my employee discount, which often gave me the best price on new vinyl. It was one of my favorite places to go on break, other than Plaza Donuts in the old Parkade. In high school, my tastes were more to rock and roll–classic groups like The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revivial, and Jethro Tull. In college, I discovered jazz and artists like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Dave Brubeck (still one of my favorites!). And because of a friend at Dana School of Music who exposed me to classical music, I began to buy some of the great classical works.

I always loved the album art on LP’s. The little booklets in jewel cases just weren’t the same. I think, for example, that my love for my recording of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony has just as much to do with the beautiful forest scene on the cover with a woman in white in the midst. Remember trying to figure out the significance of the cover of Abbey Road? Was Paul dead? Or the minimalist cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon–a black background, a thin ray of light passing through a prism creating a spectrum of color? There were the surrealist covers by Mati Klarwein on Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew and Santana’s Abraxas. Great music, great art. This never shows up on “best” lists but Cream’s Disraeli Gears cover strikes me as one of the best psychedelic pieces of art.

Camelot Music and National Record Mart eventually came on the scene at the malls, with much bigger selections than the department stores but whenever we were in K-Mart or Woolco, we’d check out the record section because they usually had the best prices. Camelot became the place to go for me to build my jazz and classical collections as well as pick up some of the latest hits. But I remember  that the YSU bookstore had some great sales, usually on “cutouts” but I found some unusual classical and jazz at some of these, including a great collection of Schubert Symphonies.

I’ve been trying to rack my brain as to whether there was ever a Peaches Records in the Youngstown area. It would have had to be after I left. There was a place called Oasis records for a while in the Boardman Plaza and I loved to go over there while my wife took her mom shopping on visits back home.

Stores just dedicated to records are fewer and farther between these days. Barnes & Noble stores have a growing selection of vinyl as well as other media. I found online three independent stores in the Youngstown area, Geo’s Music in downtown Youngstown, Underdog Records in Hubbard, and the Record Connection in Niles. I’ll have to put these on my Youngstown Bucket List because I still love perusing through the bins of vinyl looking for that special recording.

Did you enjoy hanging out at record shops growing up? Where did you go to get your music?





12 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Record Stores

  1. I am a couple (two, I think) years older than you, Bob, but my Dad and I went to either the ‘Vous or Voque records every Saturday morning from about 7th grade through high school. If you had 6 Pepsi bottle caps, you could get an album for $3-somthing or a 45 for 50¢. There was a soda machine near where my dad worked at Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company, and every Friday before he left work, he emptied out the bottle cap bin and brought home 12 Pepsi bottle cpas, so we could each get a record. We could listen before buying in those days, too. Both record stores were related and Boots Bell voiced the radio spots for them. Great memories. Thanks. BTW, I bought a turntable a couple years ago just so I could still play my vinyls. HAIR has a great album cover, too!

  2. In the early sixties the best and biggest recor stow was the record shop on Market south of Indianola.we would get dropped off for a double feature Saturday matinee at the Uptown theatre. We would walk to the record shop and mainly window shop as 45s and lps were relatively expensive.we still have many of these records and our children gave us a turntable this Christmas!oldest is Jerry Lee Lewis’s Breathless.

  3. Hi al I was 13th when I started working at the National Record Mart in the Austinttown Plaza, It was just getting ready to open in the middle of summer so I decided to try and get a job even though I was to young. But I got hired with now work experience, and then did David, Allen and LInda. Now of us knew what we were doing, we had to set up the whole place and in some kind of orter. Thank God for David he and Allen figured it out how to put the albun in the righ order and they new the number on the albums??? We worked together for a couple year and then had to open the Niles store We had so much fun and at that time the albums were from $1.79 then to 2.79 did There were albums we couldn’t get rid of like Queen, Blue Orster Cultj and was it Quenn who did Godzilla? I can’t remember now but we could not sell that album, and we had like 100 of them, but a few months later we did We had a special AP every week, Met lots of people who ae still friends today.

  4. There were also records sold in Kmarts or Hills. We also used to have a few places around town to buy audio equipment back in the day. Turntables, Receivers, tape recording equipment, headphones and speakers. I think that the premier place with high-end audiophile components was Audio arts out by Boardman Hobby shop on Market Street but I didn’t buy much there. Growing up, we also had hobbies. I went through slot cars, model railroading, model rocketry and control line powered airplanes …to name a few 🙂

  5. I bought my first record at Record Rendezvous on Federal in 1958: Danny & the Juniors, “ At The Hop”. I was 9 years old. And so began a life-long appreciation and love of music. Thanks, Bob. Great post, as always!

  6. Thank you for this article.
    I could not remember Music Oasis for the life of me. I spent forever trying to remember the name and with your great article I finally figured it out! Thank you very much.

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