For the Record: Fantasyland Records

Many famous musicians have bought records at this Atlanta institution
Fantasyland Records, Atlanta
(404) 237-3193
FANTASYLAND RECORDS opened in 1976. Courtesy of Fantasyland Records
FANTASYLAND RECORDS opened in 1976. Courtesy of Fantasyland Records
What was your first job?

Andy Folio: I delivered newspapers from age 14 to 20 in my hometown of Greenville, S.C. I was delivering papers on my bike “the day the music died.” Bad news on the doorstep.

What was the first record you ever bought?

AF: The first record I bought was a 45, “Jennie Lee” by Jan & Arnie. They later became Jan & Dean.

When did the idea of owning your own record store first occur to you?

AF: I began selling comics, baseball cards and records at flea markets around Atlanta when I was in my mid-20s. I decided to save up and and try to open a store by age 30. I missed it by one year!

What is the history of your store?

AF: I opened the store in October 1976 as a comic book/baseball card/used book store. The manager of our store, Mark Gunter, began working for me in 1979. We are in a strip of shops dating from the 1930s in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. We initially began a few doors down from where we currently are, in a much smaller space. I had one crate of records at home that I wanted to get rid of. I brought them up to the shop to see if I might be able to sell a few. I stuck them over in a corner, and after a few days, nearly every record in the crate was gone!

What do you specialize in?

AF: We have always focused on having the finest selection of used vinyl in Atlanta. We carry it all … from classic rock, indie/alternative, R&B and soul, jazz, country, classical, vocalists, and our favorite section in the store, “Strange & Bizarre.” We began carrying new vinyl about two years ago, and it has been very successful. We stock all the great new reissues that have come out, along with current new vinyl releases. Of course, we carry CDs and tapes also, but it’s the vinyl that keeps us in business, especially these days. We have the best selection of 45s in town, also!

Has the neighborhood where your store is located changed?

AF: The neighborhood we are in has definitely changed over the last 34 years. Our 1930s storefront is a curious-looking piece of old Atlanta among all the new high-rise development around us.

How has the music-retail market changed over the years?

AF: Obviously, as far as major retail music stores, there isn’t much that remains. No Tower, Virgin, Record Bar, Peaches …or any of the other headstones you see in the record-store graveyard. All the downloading, MP3s and iPods pretty much killed the big corporate record/CD stores. However, us and all the other small indie record stores are hanging in there.

Have you noticed a resurgence in vinyl record sales?

AF: If it wasn’t for the resurgence in vinyl record sales, we may have had to purchase a plot at Record Store Cemetery, too! We are definitely selling more vinyl these days. It`s great to see all the high-school and college-age kids getting into vinyl. Seeing them buying Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin and Hendrix records … at the same time they’re picking up the latest Radiohead, Wilco or Vampire Weekend vinyl LP.

What changes has the store gone through over the years?

AF: Not a lot really. People always say it looks the same as it did 20 years ago! I think that’s probably the same with most used-record stores. The most recent major change has been the decline in used CD sales and the increase in vinyl sales. And the re-introduction of new vinyl.

What was the biggest day the store ever had?

AF: Probably the day Michael Jackson came in. He spent around $2,000. Didn’t say much, just asked where to find certain things, said thank you, and that was about it! He bought mostly records and CDs — maybe a few music books. His “big guy” paid for it. They got back in the limo parked outside and drove off. You just never know who’s gonna walk in that door!

Ever had anybody else famous come in and shop at your store?

AF: We’ve had quite a few of the famous type come in over the years. Eric Clapton has been in a couple times. Robert Plant came in once back in the mid-’90s. He was on tour and had purchased an early ’70s convertible out in Texas. He was driving the car behind the tour bus! It had an 8-track player in it, and somehow he found out about our store and came in and asked if we had any 8-tracks? Of course, we did, and still do, have 8-tracks, and he bought about 20 of them! He was a really nice guy. Most of the well-known musicians who come in are nice people. They seem real comfortable record shopping in our store. No one bugs them, and if someone does ask for an autograph, they’re always happy to do it.

Whereas, in another environment, they may be a bit more reluctant. Chris Robinson and Peter Buck always stop in when they’re in town. They’re both major record collectors. Elvis Costello has been in. Fred Schneider of the B-52’s comes in often … and the aforementioned lead singer of the Jackson 5.

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