Part museum, part gallery and part record store, Gold Million Records has been described as “Rock ’n’ Roll meets Louis XIV.” But this store is more than just a pretty face, as owner Harold Gold explains.
What was your first job?
Harold Gold: My first “real job” out of college was as a marketing rep for Polygram Records in D.C. Then Polygram branch manager in Philly in 1975. Opened Plastic Fantastic (now Gold Million Records) in 1976.
When did the idea of owning your own record store first occur to you?
HG: Shortly after being transferred to Philadelphia. The market was dominated by chain stores, like Wall To Wall Sound, Listening Booth and Sam Goody’s. There were no independent stores selling imports or used records. My first slogan was “the kind of record store you would own, if you could own a record store.”
What is the history of your store?
HG: Opened as Plastic Fantastic in Bryn Mawr, Pa., in 1976. Moved to neighboring Ardmore in 1985. Returned to Bryn Mawr in 2004, with the re-named Gold Million Records (my wife is Max I. Million). Part gallery, part museum, part record store.
What do you specialize in?
HG: Vintage vinyl records, record players, and our own handcrafted line of “cool stuff made from records”.
Has the neighborhood where your store is located changed?
HG: Not really. It’s the same bucolic college town as before. But we’re now on the main drag, instead of near the train station.
How has the music retail market changed over the years?
HG: The first big change for us was the advent of the CD. But we never lost our focus on vinyl and continued to purchase high-quality collections. Today, GMR deals exclusively in vinyl. No CDs and no DVDs.
The next big change was the arrival of the Internet. Once the enemy, it is now our savior, as we sell worldwide at www.goldmillionrecords.com.
Have you noticed a resurgence in vinyl-record sales?
HG: You bet, and we’re banking on it. We’re also seeing a substantial bump in our LP album frame sales, recognizing “music as art”. We have recently installed a small gallery space to highlight our music memorabilia.
What does your store offer that few, if any, others do?
HG: First is our own line of “cool stuff made from records” — clocks, bowls, tissue-box holders, wine carriers, handbags, jewelry and a variety of high-end home and desk accessories, all made with recycled records and available exclusively at GMR. We carry a full line of record supplies, including inner and outer sleeves for 7-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch records, record jackets, cleaners, and LP frames. We also carry several lines of turntables, including the brand new Pro-Ject “genie” in high-gloss black or red. But the real deals are the records, with an unsurpassed selection of vintage vinyl.
What changes has the store gone through over the years?
HG: The first Plastic Fantastic (1976-1985) was like a scene from the “High Fidelity” movie.
The Ardmore store (1985-2004) was a 5,000-square-foot supermarket, with LPs occupying the entire second floor. Gold Million Records (2004-2010) is a return to our roots, with a concentration on design as well as music. Described as “Rock ’n’ Roll meets Louis XIV” and crowned the 2010 “King of Vinyl” by ABC Action News.
Who are some of your favorite customers from over the years and why?
HG: Our favorites are the regulars, who all get nicknames. There’s the skinny worm, laminate man, sweat man, rain man, the neck — all aptly named. One of them, Led Zep man, stops in every day and buys every Zep record in stock.
What was the biggest day the store ever had?
HG: The Talking Heads in-store on Oct. 28, 1977, was not the biggest day, but it was the first threshold event where our sales spiked and held.
Ever had anybody famous come in and shop at your store?
HG: That would be a very large list. Some of our favorites are The Talking Heads, Blondie, B-52’s, Joan Jett, The Police, Iggy Pop, XTC, Todd Rundgren, Ramones, Suzanne Vega, Mike Oldfield, T. Bone Burnett and scores of others.
What is the future of record stores like yours?
HG: The future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades. Keep it fresh, and keep the faith. Gold Million Records is proudly celebrating their 33-1/3 anniversary.
What’s the best part about being the owner of a record store, and what’s the worst?
HG: Good hours. Bad hours.
What’s the rarest record you’ve ever had in your store?
HG: We’ve sold some very rare pieces recently. Our David Bowie Ziggy Stardust acetate, with an alternate Chuck Berry track, was sold to a collector in Italy and was highlighted in Goldmine’s Market Watch column. Our “Led Zeppelin II” acetate shipped to Japan. And an unreleased Sun Ra test-pressing went to Switzerland. We’ve also been liquidating our extensive autograph collection.
What’s the strangest request you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
HG: A customer recently asked to return one of our hand-made clocks because he was allergic to the aluminum clock arms. Go figure!
What advice would you have for people who want to own a record store?
HG: Go for it. ?
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