Tom Ray and Lew Prince loved music, but thought most record stores sucked. In 1979, they decided to start a record store for music lovers. It would be a record store built from the customers’ point of view. It would be a place where you’d find good music of all types and people working there who could tell you about it.
But they didn’t have any money to rent a store (bummer), so they pooled about three hundred records they’d gathered and rented a booth at the Soulard Farmer’s Market in St. Louis, MO. They sold most of the records and bought more for the next week. Pretty soon they were hauling a couple of thousand records to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday. That was the fall of 1979.
They finally rented a 400 sq, ft. store at 6354 Delmar. They got it cheap because it had 136 building code violations. They only sold used records (CD’s weren’t even invented yet!). Business was good. The store was open about 90 hours a week. Tom and Lew got tired, so they hired their first employee. Soon there were more.
Customers said, “How come you guys don’t stock new records? There’s lots of stuff we can’t find at those other stores.”
So they did. Business got even better. Pretty soon they moved to 6362 Delmar. This was a much better store. It only had 129 building code violations. Now their store was almost a thousand sq. ft. It sounds like a lot but Tom and Lew just couldn’t stop buying records. It got really cramped in there really quickly.
Sometimes they’d run out of money and Tom would say, “Music will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no music.” So they’d buy more records. After CD’s were invented they started buying and selling those too. Now the store was really full.
So they moved up the street to where they are now. “Wow, 7000 sq. ft. We’ll never run out of room again!”, said Lew. The new store was open lot’s more hours. Tom and Lew hired lots of employees. They all started buying records and CD’s.