On Lincoln Avenue, up at the top of the Altadena Business District, stands a musical gem. Spin Off Records is one of the few remaining independent music retailers out there. When I walked up, I was greeted by the sweet sound of Soul music wafting out the door. The walls were covered with CDs, each wall a different section. This is definitely your place for old school R&B, Hip-Hop classics and Gospel, as well as Jazz and Blues.
There is also a bargain bin with hard to find compilations for $5. I got out of there with no less than three myself, and am pumping “Street Jams: Back 2 the Old Skool” right now. If only my car had hydraulics! If that weren’t enough, there is a great collection of DVD’s that feature music, including one of my very favorites, “Wild Styles.”
While there, I met Mark Harris, who has owned Spin Off for ten years, and has been in the record store business his whole life. His family owned a small chain of stores called Target Records in the 70’s. In fact, when the Target stores we are all familiar with now wanted to start selling music, they first had to buy the name from Harris’ family. We waxed poetic for a while about the music business, how it has changed music today, and how hard it is to compete with the major retailers out there like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, not to mention iTunes. As it stands, Mark says he worries about staying in business even another year.
Spin Off Records is not a place where the tragically hip go to find rare vinyl, which is just fine with me. Aside from a few records that Mark released off his own label, they don’t even actually carry vinyl. What you get at Spin Off Records is a selection of music that you won’t find at any major store, hand-picked by a man who has a lifetime of experience in knowing good music.