I know in this day and age it’s difficult to remember, but there was a time when many large department stores had their own large record and tape departments. And there were (GASP!) actually retail establishments called RECORD STORES, devoted to selling the latest music. Ok, all sarcasm aside, this page is devoted to those stores and the chart surveys they printed (as is, again they’re marked up quite a bit in some cases), and I’m going to tell you a little about each place as well, because I had a lot of happy times therein…
THE BRASS EAR was a record store at Tacoma (WA) Mall back in the day. I remember their sign and logo, and that they had these large round bins full of albums, with different accessories on the tower shelf in the center of the bin, and a long rack of 45s along one wall. I have two charts from there – one came from 1975, when I lived on the Olympic Peninsula, and the other from 1981, when a group of people from our school stopped at the mall for lunch on the way home from the annual Future Homemakers of America State Meeting, which had been held in Olympia that year.
DJ’S RECORD CITY (I think that was the name) opened in the then-new mini-mall area of Northtown Shopping Center in Spokane Washington in late 1978 or early 1979. I have several charts from there as well, mostly the top hits, but the last one is a top-selling album chart.
EUCALYPTUS RECORDS AND TAPES was a chain in Washington state at the time. They had several Spokane locations, but the only one I remember visiting was the one on North Division Street. And I went there only ONCE, because I found the clerks to be extremely condescending and obnoxious. I have no idea how I got more than one chart; either they had a store downtown that I don’t remember (they may have taken over Odyssey once it went under) or I had friends pick them up. They also had an annoying habit of dating their lists only once in a while, so I’ve made my best guess on the dates based on the songs where no date was available.
FEATURED 40 lists were given to the stores handled by whatever rack jobber handled the music section in the store. I had a huge story about rack jobbers on Planet Bibliomusica you can read for more info; basically these people came in and stocked the section because the store wanted to carry music but didn’t want to have the hassle of doing it themselves. I believe this particular jobber handled Pay N Save, which was a decent sized Pacific Northwest drug and variety chain, and I always checked the store out when shopping in the area.
LIEBERMAN was another rack jobber, and i have no idea which stores in the area he serviced or where this survey came from, nor the date, so I’ve taken my best guess on it…
ODYSSEY RECORDS AND TAPES was a west coast chain that was around until early 1980, when they closed every store and filed for bankruptcy. The one in Spokane was downtown, within part of TC’s “Record Triangle” and easily visited from the main stores area. Again, they didn’t date them, and they were double sided, with the front side featuring the top 50, and back side with other genres top hits. From the songs, they’re both from fall or early winter 1979…
PAYLESS DRUGS was a large chain of super drug and variety stores on the west coast; the name was retired in the late 1979s when they were bought out. I don’t know which Payless this survey came from, as I don’t remember there being one in downtown Spokane, where I most frequently shopped, but based on the date, there may have been on at Northtown Shopping Center
J.C. PENNEYS is a brand everyone knows, and of the large chain stores located in downtown Spokane in the late 1970s and early 1980s, they had the best selection, the best prices, and the largest 45 section outside of The Music Box, a record store a few blocks away (and which ironically didn’t do their own survey lists – they used the Hot 100). I would always start my record buying trips here because of the singles section, which was HUGE, and covered Top 40, Country, Disco, and R&B, with a few other ones thrown in for good measure. Most of these surveys probably came from that store, although they also had stores at Northtown Shopping Center and University City mall, but i didn’t get out to either one of those very often.
AUGUST 16 1976
DECEMBER 13 1976
MARCH 28 1977
JUNE 6 1977
DECEMBER 26 1977
MAY 22 1978
JUNE 19 1978
JUNE 26 1978
AUGUST 7 1978
NOVEMBER 20 1978
MARCH 26 1979
APRIL 2 1979
MAY 28 1979
JUNE 18 1979
JULY 30 1979
SEPTEMBER 17 1979
OCTOBER 29 1979
NOVEMBER 19 1979
MARCH 10 1980
APRIL 28 1980
SEARS at Northtown Shopping Center had a huge music section as well, but I don’t remember being around it during the time that the only survey I have from them is dated. But I got it one way or another, heh heh…
SUPER 50 was another rack jobber, and I’m pretty sure they serviced the Variety Mart in Ritzville, where I would buy my singles when I couldn’t get to Spokane, since my Mom and I would often drive down for lunch or dinner on Sundays after church and do some shopping in the small downtown stores they had. They were also double sided, with the main hits on the front, and country, soul, or albums on the back.
THE BON MARCHE was a Pacific Northwest luxury department store chain with stores in Washington and Oregon, and was the only place my Mom had a store charge card at until years later, when she also picked up a Sears card. They were bought out by Macy’s in the 1990s and were called Bon-Macy’s for a while before dropping “Bon” from the name a few years later. The 1975 survey likely came from the store at SouthCenter Mall in Tukwila (outside Seattle, near SeaTac Airport) or Tacoma Mall, the rest from the store in Spokane. I loved the record section in Spokane – it was small, tucked away on the sixth or seventh floor, and had all kinds of gems I hadn’t found anywhere else…
WOOLWORTHS were all over the country until they shuttered their variety store operations in the mid-1990s, sold off a lot of their locations, then reorganized their stores into Foot Locker Inc (yes, it’s the same company). I mostly went there to peruse the cutout bins, because you could always find one or two cheap gems. However, my mind is a bit hazy here…i don’t remember there being a Woolworth in downtown Spokane – there was a Skaggs and a Newberry’s but not a Woolworths. So these must have come from either the one at Northtown Shopping Center or possibly one of them from the one in Moses Lake when we were there for a visit. They’re dated too late to have come from the ones in Wenatchee or the Tacoma area.
So, that’s my trip through the old store chains and their surveys. Now, I’d like to make this section grow with a contributor area – if you have a collection of these kinds of surveys, let me know, and we’ll work something out, and we can add your memories here and the surveys as well – use the contact form to get in touch or drop me a line at webmaster [at] pnrnetworks.com!