By Dr. Disc
Goldmine’s secret shopper — who will be known to you only as Dr. Disc — travels extensively and loves to visit record shops during those trips. An avid collector and music lover, the good Doc scopes out shops near and far and grades them on a scale of 1 to 10 in each of five different categories: Stock, Staff, Store, Selection and anything deserving of Special Mention.
Name: Charlemagne Record Exchange
Address: 1924-1/2 11th Ave. S., Birmingham, AL 35205
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
STOCK: This store has it all for sale: new and used records, new and used 45s, CDs, cassettes, stickers, posters, record players and other music-related items.
This store is made for the true vinyl lovers.
STAFF: Maybe it was just the day I was there, but I have never seen a store this size have so many staff: four. The owner of the store was there. He is the original owner, who started the store in 1977. Jobal was the staff member behind the counter who talked music and shops with me the whole time I was there. This staff is committed to the importance of the independent record store.
STORE: Charlemagne has a lot in a little location, and this creates some clutter. I did love walking up the stairs to get to the second-floor shop. The hallway is covered with music fliers, support for local musicians and advertisements. The store is filled in every possible spot with music-related items. I would imagine that if 15 people all showed up at one time, it would be pretty crowded. The outside of the store is hard to see from the street, and if you blink you might miss it, but keep looking, because this little store is a good store to visit.
SELECTION: Charlemagne has a great selection of new vinyl releases and a good selection of most popular used titles. The staff members pride the store on having a great selection of blues and jazz titles. I found Charlemagne’s prices to be slightly above average, but the quality of the records is very good.
SPECIAL MENTION: Charlemagne Records participates in National Record Store day and Back To Black Friday. Charlemagne also has taken its record shop on the road with pop-up record stores at a local brewery. And the staff members are dedicated to helping you track down those hard-to-locate titles on your wish list.