||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (January 2011)|
A record shop or record store is an outlet that sold recorded music. Although vinyl records and audio cassettes are no longer sold in the majority of music stores, in favour of compact discs and home video recordings products, people in some countries, like the UK, still use the term "record shop", in conjunction with "CD shop" or "music shop".
Originally record shops were privately run and independent businesses, meaning that prices could differ greatly from town to town, store to store. Today music shops are largely chain owned and thus prices are fairly similar regardless of the wealth of the town. In the United Kingdom the national chain style of selling records and tapes took off with Our Price, itself originally a small independent business founded in the early 1970s that expanded nationwide.
Competition (like any major business) is fierce, proven by the closure of Our Price in 2004 after several rival chains emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, including HMV, Virgin Megastore and Music and Video Club. Around the world, the traditional record stores (chain or independent) are currently suffering from mail order (most notably on the Internet), as well as supermarkets and box stores selling recorded music at prices way below the recommended dealer price as a loss leader, thus devaluing the product to a damaging degree, and digital downloads.
Because of the above factors, several major chains in the UK and North America have closed or shrunk in recent years. In addition to Our Price, Andys Records, Music and Video Club and Media Play have ceased trading. Tower Records closed all its British and United States outlets in recent years. Even chains that are still major players such as Virgin have had to close some stores (most notably their ones at Gatwick and Heathrow airports). Virgin also had to drastically reduce their presence in the American market. Sam Goody, a major player for many years, has also closed dozens of stores recently, and Canada's long-running Sam the Record Man finally closed the doors of its flagship store in downtown Toronto in the summer of 2007.
In addition to shops that sell new product, many record shops specialize in second hand or used collectible records, which they purchase from the public or other dealers, and sell for a profit. It is not uncommon for such shops to contain several items priced in the hundreds or thousands of US dollars (or local equivalent) due to their rarity, as well as items that are fairly common for much less. This type of record shop has also faced fierce competition from Internet sites like eBay, where people can sell their own records and avoid "the middle man".
Spillers Records in Cardiff, Wales, founded in 1894 by Henry Spiller, is reputed to be the oldest record shop in the world.1 It originally specialised in the sale of phonographs, cylinders and shellac discs. In 2006 it was reported that it could be forced to close by a sharp increase in the rent for its premises, but later moved to another location nearby. George's Song Shop in Johnstown, PA is widely accepted as the oldest seller of records in the United States.
Independent record store numbers are dwindling with many major cities limited to just a handful of stores e.g. Plugd Records in Cork is the only independent store left in Ireland's second largest city.