How I Celebrate Record Store Day ... Every Day

After work, when I’m tired and grumpy and can’t face traffic, instead of stopping in a bar, I like to visit a record store. Sometimes, I head for Bloomfield to Paul’s CDs at 4526 Liberty Ave., basically catty-corner from Tessaro’s.



Photo courtesy of Mogran Cahn and Hyla Willis

Paul’s is a classic little record shop that mostly sells CDs, but also some vinyl (primarily newer LPs, believe it or not). Generally, I spend my time up front considering the current bestsellers, perusing the British rock magazines and looking through the rack of used CDs. I also walk around the store and check out the CDs that Paul Olszewski and his “co-hosts” chose to highlight on the eye-level displays. 

I’m calling the employees here co-hosts because they’re more than just sales people; they’re music lovers, musicians, tastemakers and gurus. They read reviews on pitchfork.com. They may get tired of being compared to the guys in the record store in High Fidelity, but they’re like that:  opinionated and honest.  They’ve led me to many artists that I’ve come to love. They also play a cool mix of things in the store—from bossa nova to Buddy Nutt. 

Olszewski, a Carnegie native, has owned and operated this store since Labor Day weekend 1993.  I met him when he worked at Jerry’s Fine Used Records in Oakland before the shop moved to Squirrel Hill.  Olszewski always had a soft spot for spacey, folky bands from the British Isles, and he recently admitted that Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk was one of his favorite records of all time.  In the winters especially, Olszewski sports a long beard—sort of Smith Brothers style, maybe ZZ Top would be more apropos here.

There’s been a record store in this location since 1979. Before Olszewski bought the store, it was Jim’s Records, which was founded by Jim Spitznagel.  As you walk in, there’s a red “m” in the terrazzo entryway left over from when Miller’s Shoe Store was there. Olszewski points out that many of the shelves are from that era, too.  Lots of the posters and promotional decorations are from the Spitznagel days.  “Elvis Costello has been on that wall as long as I can remember,” Olszewski says.

There’s an awareness here that this sort of store is rare these days.  “I’ve never been able to define it,” Olszewski says.  John Bell, one of the co-hosts, says, “Remember Sam Goody’s?  This is like that: A real record store where people care about music, and they weren’t just pushing product.”  Yep, this is like that. John gets fired up. “I mean, there are just special places in the world where there’s energy and magic—like Stonehenge. This is one of those places. A place where music and people come together over some deep need. The energy builds and accrues.” It’s not always so cosmic, but I agree it’s an important spot in my world.

A national Record Store Day exists to acknowledge cool shops like Paul’s. The third-annual one is April 16. “People come that day,” Olszewski explains, “to get special releases and that-day-only items, but we find it means less business before and after because people save up for Record Store Day.” I seldom get there on Saturdays, so I don’t care about that day, but I care about this store. To me, every day is Record Store Day.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Free Watch Party: Anthony Bourdain's “Parts Unknown” in Pittsburgh

Free Watch Party: Anthony Bourdain's “Parts Unknown” in Pittsburgh

A local theater will show the much-anticipated episode on its big screen Sunday night

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Parts & Service Adds Pizza To Superior Motors

Parts & Service Adds Pizza To Superior Motors

Executive Chef Kevin Sousa and Pastry Chef Kate Carney are cooking sourdough pizza in an outdoor brick oven.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 5 Best Underrated Fountains in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Underrated Fountains in Pittsburgh

While we all know and love the grandeur of the fountain at Point State Park, there are many hidden fountain gems throughout the city. These are a few of our lesser-known favorites.

Comments


Madness and Mayhem in the ScareHouse Basement

Madness and Mayhem in the ScareHouse Basement

Visiting the world-famous haunted attraction's adults-only, subterranean experience.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
It's What Steelers Do After Kansas City That Matters

It's What Steelers Do After Kansas City That Matters

The team is more than capable of beating the Bengals Sunday, but are they willing to keep their eye on the ball long enough to begin stacking victories again for a change?

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

Robert Hallett, Goldsmith, handcrafts the jewelry in his Oakmont shop.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Celebrate the Life and Work of George Romero This Week

Celebrate the Life and Work of George Romero This Week

A preview of the week-long tribute to the late filmmaker, plus reviews and more movie news.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Pick of the Patch: Pumpkin-Themed Proposals

The Pick of the Patch: Pumpkin-Themed Proposals

In honor of fall, we’re showcasing three couples whose proposals involved one of the best things about the season: pumpkins.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Holiday How-To: Upgrade Your Fall Decor with Advice from Local Experts

Holiday How-To: Upgrade Your Fall Decor with Advice from Local Experts

Interior designers share their tips on creating easy, elegant décor that will take you from Halloween through Thanksgiving.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments

Edit Module

Edit Module