Local record store filled with treasures

By on April 3, 2013
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Charlemagne Records exchange is not only a great place to purchase music, but it is also one of the oldest businesses in five Points South. Sarah Adkins / Staff Photographer

Charlemagne Records exchange is not only a great place to purchase music, but it is also one of the oldest businesses in five Points South. Sarah Adkins / Staff Photographer

While driving to Birmingham from my house, I heard a tasty track on one of my Pandora stations, which led me to one of the local icons in Five Points. All though I could have easily downloaded the album illegally, I decided that I would buy the album locally in order to support local businessmen and women. As a result, I found myself heading up the narrow staircase to a very quirky record store.

Upon first glance, I immediately noticed that the organizational structure of the store was dismal. The records, CDs, and tapes seemed to be scattered everywhere, yet this didn’t seem to deter shoppers, because the store was relatively full when I went. There were shelves and shelves of records, and the store was actually quite cramped. I browsed for a bit, and I found that there was actually a great selection of music there. There did seem to be an emphasis on classic rock, but it might have only appeared that way because I have a strong affinity for classic rock records.
From what I saw, the pricing was a bit on the high side, but as with the loose organizational structure of the store, this was not a strong deterrent to many shoppers as was evident by the line at the cash register.

Charlemagne Record Exchange is a wonderful place to buy your favorite music and discover new sounds. Sarah Adkins / Staff Photographer

Charlemagne Record Exchange is a wonderful place to buy your favorite music and discover new sounds. Sarah Adkins / Staff Photographer

The fact that the store is one of the oldest businesses in the Five Points district, according to the person working behind the counter, is apparent in the beautiful patina that permeates every aspect of the shop. Contributing to the vintage feel of the store is a very old Coca-Cola machine that dispenses glass bottles of Coke. Some of the records look like they have been in the store for years and years, and there is a smattering of aging posters on the walls on the staircase that leads to the store. The shop is definitely a local icon as many of these band posters were advertising local acts.

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The people working there were friendly and helpful when I asked them about the store and my CD. They looked like aging hippies but they are quick to help out a customer. When I asked him about getting the Led Zeppelin BBC sessions, he told me that they were not in stock, but could be ordered. At this point I was thinking that I could easily do it myself, but local businesses need business too, so I gave him my contact information on a slip of paper. He put this slip on a huge stack of other customer orders, so I’ve lost hope of ever seeing those BBC sessions, but going to the store was still a fun time.

Babi Baruani
Features Editor
features@insideuab.com

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