Record stores aren’t what they used to be. There was a time when a trip to the record store was the beginning of a great adventure. But that was the seventies and eighties. These days, corporate apathy and the explosion of online music sites seem to have rendered record shops positively quaint.
Fortunately, there is hope for record store fans in general, and St. Louis, Missouri, shoppers in particular. For music nuts like me, our salvation lies at the appropriately named Planet Score records. The store is located in Maplewood, at 7421 Manchester Road.
The store reminds me of a “shotgun” apartment with an open floor plan. This presents the visitor with the perfect first impression: wall to wall music, both on the floor and tucked into every nook and cranny. In the more corporate stores, the emphasis was being placed on music- and movie-related merchandise. The music itself almost seemed like an afterthought. Planet Score comes at it from the opposite direction, which is absolutely perfect.
Within seconds, you’ll be greeted by one or both of these gentlemen, Tim Lohmann and Joe Stulce, who own the place. And yes, they are as mellow and laid-back as they appear to be.
Some people own and operate a shop because they want to make money. I have no doubt that Tim and Joe are out to make a living with their store. But what separates them from many others I’ve dealt with in these shops is that these guys honestly and genuinely love music. It’s incredibly easy to strike up lengthy conversations about music. And when I say music, I mean ALL forms of music. I’ve spoken to both of them for hours on end, and I still can’t say with certainty what either’s favorite music or band is. That’s meant as a compliment.
Tim and Joe are two men doing the work of four. Their poor computer probably has more than a couple of fried circuits, given the workout it gets on a daily basis. Special orders aren’t a problem for these guys. And given my musical tendencies, special orders are pretty much the norm. It’s nice to know someone is willing to go the extra mile to help me find the music I desire.
There is always inventory to be checked in, or a collection of albums to inspect for future sales. More than once, Joe has called to my attention an album or two he’s checking in, because he’s aware of my tastes, and already has a great gauge on what I would like. Thanks to Joe, I now have acts like Can, Dungen, and Once and Future Band in my collection. And they are very welcome additions, indeed!
Want to wax ironic and put that old cassette player to use? Planet Score has you covered! Believe it or not, I actually saw a few eight-tracks lying around, too!
Planet Score also has a selection of movies and concert videos. Yet as many times as I’ve been there, I’ve barely looked at these things. Why? Because there’s way too much music to explore. This store has its priorities straight!
It’s not the most scientific method, but I tend to judge a record store by the availability of more obscure bands and records. During my first visit, I made my way to the “B” section of the CD browser racks, which take up the central portion of the store. I had the urge to look for Brand X. Not only did I find the band’s CDs, but I found two specific titles I had been seeking out for ages!
I’m just gonna say it: yeah, I scored.
Planet Score is a great place for a music fanatic like myself. It’s not the biggest record store in town, but that’s beside the point. Joe and Tim make the store feel like home. It’s a place you want to visit again and again. Every time I walk out of the place, I start making plans for my next visit. I’ve picked up more special orders from this store in the past few months than I did in years at the corporative store I frequented. There are plenty of times when I could buy my obscure music from Amazon or some other site. I might even save a couple of bucks that way. But I’d rather give my money to Joe and Tim, because they get me and people like me. And anyone who understands me musically has my everlasting and unyielding support.
Planet Score: the perfect shop with the perfect name.