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Six Metro Record Stores We Wish Were Still Open….


I only have two reasons to ever visit Norman, and now, with Hastings Entertainment closing, those reasons are cut exactly in half. What a sad loss to the community.

Chalk it up to a dying music industry, millennials who have no love for physical media or just a total lack of product worth purchasing, but as the numbers of records sold go down, so does the number of stores that sell them. We’re down to, what, about two or three record stores in the Metro (Guestroom, Trolley Shop and that ol’ stalwart Charlie’s Jazz—am I missing one?)? And, in five years’ time, who knows if they’ll even still be around.

As a music fan who considers record stores a near-holy place of worship, I spend a lot of time reminiscing about growing up in the 90s in Oklahoma City when record stores were truly a booming business, both chains and indies, living side-by-side, offering their own specialized genres, special offers and in-store events, taking almost every single penny I earned from my afterschool job at the Belle Isle Library.

Here’s a list of the long gone records stores that, during my most formative music period were not only the lifeblood of the Metro music scene, but personal sanctuaries for me, where I would spend countless hours and even more countless dollars exploring the vast world of popular music and beyond.



1. Camelot Music

Scoff if you must, but outside of department store music sections, the first record store that I had all to my own was Camelot in Penn Square Mall. In 1990, I was in sixth-grade and given permission to walk to Penn Square (all the way from N. May and NW 47th, mind you) to go see movies with my brother and neighborhood pal Jesse.

We’d make a day of it, buying a 99-cent drink from Taco Bell back when their fountain was on the honor system and refilling it all day long was an expected evil, as was hanging out at the arcade, movie-hopping and a trip to Camelot and its less successful mall-brethren, Musicland, to buy music that you’d invariably have to hide from your mother under your mattress. Mama ain’t got no love for Too Short, bitch!

Camelot always had the better deals, from the wall of 49-cent cassette singles (or cassingles, if you will) to an extraordinary cut-out bin of cheap tapes and CDs, you could always score a nice selection of music for under ten dollars. And while it went through various permutations long after I left town—didn’t they become FYEs or something?—Camelot always made the mall a trip worth making. Sure as Hell can’t say that now. Rest in peace, Camelot.

First album purchased: Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed (cassette)


Sound Warehous OKC

2. Sound Warehouse

I started going to the Sound Warehouse at N. May and NW 63rd in middle school, mostly because they offered 99-cent movie rentals (see a trend) and had a great horror section, so it was no thing to load up on a stack of VHS tapes and be entertained all weekend, such as an indoor-kid with no friends is wont to do. Unfortunately, however, this Sound Warehouse seemed to have given up on music a long time ago, with only a few shelves of cut-out merch left, focusing on the burgeoning movie rental market instead, as well as novelty items such as fake rubber sunny-side up eggs.

Not that it mattered really, as a few blocks up the road at N. May and Wilshire was another Sound Warehouse, this one with both VHS rentals and a full-fledged record store (if I remember correctly, there was even an annex for classical music). The first time I heard about this location was via a flyer for an Achtung, Baby midnight release listening party, wherein the first 100 purchasers of the new album would receive a stack of framable U2 art prints.

I begged my parents to let me go, but they were convinced that drug use and homosexual molestations would occur, so I had to wait for one rainy day where I sneaked out the house and walked all the way there from my home at NW 47th and May. Sure, the CD was sold out and the art prints gone, but I did discover is an armload of U2 cassingles and, to this day, what is still my all-time favorite Metro record store. Rest in peace, Sound Warehouse.

 First album purchased: U2 - “Even Better Than the Real Thing (Paul Oakenfold/Apollo 440 Remixes)” (cassette)


CD warehouse

3. CD Warehouse

Talk about a game-changer. That first weekend CD Warehouse opened up next to the McDonald’s a few blocks up from N. May and NW 63rd, the concept of the “used CD” was a real foreign, almost shady thing. Why would we want to buy someone else’s dirty ol’ compact disc?

Oh, of course, for the $6.99 price sticker! CD warehouse made it affordable for me to finally make the switch from cassettes to compact discs through their low pricing, wide selection and a lenient trade policy that made it sure I was never again stuck with an album I didn’t really want after I gave it a couple of compulsory listens, I’m looking at you Smash by the Offspring.

And let’s not forget that wicked poster selection that featured those huge British 55” by 39” posters from A Clockwork Orange, Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting that practically adorned every lonely nerd’s dorm-room or first-hovel living room for the next decade or so.

But then things got weird. CD Warehouse started moving all over the place, up and down May, to closeout centers on NW 39th Expressway and then, right before I moved to Colorado, a space on old-school Automobile Alley, but, by then, the magic had gone and when I returned to town, they were all but a fleeting memory. Rest in peace, CD Warehouse.

 First album purchased: Rollins Band – The End of the Silence (compact disc)



4. Rainbow Records

Long before I came along, Rainbow Records was a true Oklahoma City institution, their stickers just as prominent on stoner cars, bathroom walls and local stop signs almost as much as the KATT’s; it was made very clear this was the home for rock and roll. While going to Classen Fifth Year Center and then Harding, the school bus would pass by the NW 23rd and Classen location twice a day and I could only dream about what rock and/or rolling was going on inside.

Then, when I was accepted to Classen SAS down the road, it was nothing for me to skip class in the middle of the day to go and spend a couple of hours perusing their enormous collection of music and, as always by the door, that box of freebie posters that would fill up the walls of my room, which most of the time would need fresh covering after my dad went into a rage and tear them off the walls and rip them in half. It’s also pretty much the reason I got out of comic books, natch.

But Rainbow will always hold a deep place in my heart because when I was just a 15-year-old kid, they not only bought advertising in practically every issue of my ‘zine DAMAGED, but they prominently displayed it and sold it on their magazine racks. And even though the building is still there—with that same awning—it’s now some sort of warehouse for broken vacuum cleaners, a shadow of its former glory. Everytime I pass by there, I swear that one day, if I ever have the money, I am going to buy that place and reopen it. Hopefully someone will beat me to it. Rest in peace, Rainbow.

First album purchased: Van Halen – Balance (compact disc)


Music Dimensions

5. Music Dimensions

Many people remember Music Dimensions as THE best punk, metal and alternative record store in Oklahoma City—and it was—but former owners Page and Jim’s influences on the OKC music community were truly indelible and absolutely invaluable. From supporting local music through carrying an extensive collection of OK-based bands on every format possible to their astounding in-store performances that read like a Pitchfork wishlist (I’ll never forget being head-butted by Wesley Willis!), these guys were the scene.

But their store was so much more than just punk. I went in that Southside location originally looking for a place to sell the first issue of my ‘zine—they bought 20 copies outright, paid me cash for them and then, on top of that, gave me like $50 in free music and merch—and from then on, from location to location to location, these guys were always the first to help me track down everything from esoteric Italian soundtracks to Japanese big-beat electronica and everything else in-between.

Eventually Jim and Page parted ways and, when I was in Colorado, Size Records opened up and took Music Dimensions’ place. I never got a chance to shop there, but from what I heard it did a good job of keeping the raucous spirit of true indie record stores alive for a while. Music Dimensions was a true OKC original that sadly proves the old adage “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.” Rest in peace, Music Dimensions.

 First album purchased: Fantastic Plastic Machine – The Fantastic Plastic Machine (compact disc)



6. Happy Days Record Shop

Now to be fair, I never actually bought any music from Happy Days Record Shop, hidden back in a strip mall at SW 89th and Western. But, when I first went there in my college days, I loaded up on their massive selection of posters and rock t-shirts. I had never seen a selection like what Happy Days had—it was as if they never threw anything away. I mean, where else could you get a faded mid-80s Samantha Fox door poster alongside a Public Enemy crosshairs tee? Or a Johnny Cash flipping the bird shirt and a Stone Roses British quad? Or a…well, the possibilities were limitless. Not even the stoniest booth at Old Paris can compete with what Happy Days had. Rest in peace, Happy Days.

First items purchased: Salma Hayek poster and a Brujeria/Matando Güeros shirt for shock effect.



Louis Fowler would like to do a similar retrospective about video stores, but can only come up with Kaleidoscope Video. Follow him on Twitter at @LouisFowler.

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