Record Store Love: Where Did Sioux Falls Get Their Music?
I’m pretty sure that in the future I’ll be telling my grandkids about these magical places that use to exist called record stores.
The record store is one of my favorite places in the world. I love to stop into record stores in almost every town I visit. I always make a point to find them and explore.
In the time before the internet, if you loved music, especially music outside the mainstream like rap, alternative, or metal, a record store was an oasis. Sure the Alco store may sell some country tapes and the new Bon Jovi LP, but for a deeper selection, you had to seek out a more specialized retailer. For me growing up in western Nebraska in the late '80s/early ’90s also meant making a pilgrimage to another town.
An entire afternoon could be spent in a record store; especially if they carried used stuff. Going through every letter in the alphabet and every category trying to complete my list of memorized ‘wants’ and always looking for a new hidden gem.
Being surrounded by like-minded people was also a huge bonus. People that liked and knew music; and often they were into the same types of movies and books too. So much culture would be traded among the record store denizens.
There was a time when I knew every record store from Cheyenne, WY to Lincoln, NE. In high school I’d drive to my favorite store in Sterling, CO. I can still see the poster for Janet Jackson’s Janet album in the window. I don’t remember its name, and I’m not even sure I ever knew it as anything else than ‘the record store.' A bulk of my music collection came from that place. I got Snoop’s first album there, The Chronic, Megadeth, Nirvana, so much!
Then there was On Cue in Scottsbluff, NE where I’d sneak off to during band trips to the city. Speaking of band trips, one of the best record store experiences I ever had was during a band trip in Colorado, we stopped at a mall in Denver. I got so many of my first rap albums there, NWA, Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy!
When I went to college in Kearney, NE, there was Dusty’s Records downtown. Dusty’s was the full-on High Fidelity music snob experience; and I loved it.
When I moved to Sioux Falls I discovered Last Stop CD Shop, a sanctuary after my own heart. Next to home and work, I’ve probably spent more time there than anywhere else in town. Even with the phenomenal access that the internet gives you, the record store experience is unique.
Recently I watched the documentary All Things Must Pass about the birth, rise and fall of Tower Records from the 1960’s through the end of the century. It’s great, see it.
That movie got me thinking about the heyday of the record store, and where in Sioux Falls did music lovers use to get their records, tapes, and CDs?
So, I turned to Facebook and put out that question.
Judging by the response, one of the biggest places that Sioux Falls music lovers got their records were from Lewis stores, back when they had a music department. For a while, it was THE place in town to get your 45s.
Of all the responses, only two are still alive and kicking: Last Stop CD Shop which has been doing it since the 90s, and Ernie November which opened in 1983.
The Western Mall in Sioux Falls was home to places to buy music over the years (Last Stop started there too).
Folks also remember going to Captain Ahab's and to Musicland which was near the West Mall 7 theater.
Downtown Sioux Falls was also home to several record stores and other places to buy music in the ’60s and ’70s.
- Iron Creek and Cat’s Paw used to be at 116 N Phillips
- Odlands on 9th Street
- Gefke Music on S Main
- Askew Music on 10th where Ming Wah use to be
- Sioux Falls Music
People also remembered discovering music at New World Rising, formally on S Minnesota Avenue, now a car lot, and Budget Tapes and Records which was at E 10th and Blauvelt. I’m sure there were plenty more that are being left out.
In modern Sioux Falls, the vinyl renaissance has led to a rebirth of the local record store in the city. Stores like Total Drag Records now join Last Stop and Ernie November in bringing the sounds to our town.
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