By Derek Munyon
Arts & Entertainment Editor
At the end of the main drag of Benson, there sits a small, brick-faced shop. This is the split location of local record shop Almost Music and Solid Jackson Books. Brad Smith opened Almost Music at 6569 Maple St. in 2013.
Even though the space is tight, the store has a decent selection of classic staples like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, local cassettes, CDs and vinyl, and rare stock that you may not be able to find elsewhere in town.
“It’s fun,” said Kyle Jessen, an employee who said that he got the job after hanging around often, “you get to meet different people and talk about music.” One thing that makes the store unique is its ability to cultivate its record selection.
Jessen said that the store managed their selection better than the other shops in town may be able to. They tend to get rid of product that may not sell.
Almost Music is just one of a sadly diminishing but important group of local record shops in a town where the huge local music scene is increasingly important.
The Saddle Creek Shop is located north of downtown at 721 N 14th St. between Film Streams and The Slowdown, a venue owned by Saddle Creek Records. It’s open on Fridays, and sells merchandise and albums from Omaha’s native record label, Saddle Creek Records.
Another local record store is Drastic Plastic, located at 1209 Howard St. in the Old Market. The store has been in business since 1982, starting as a punk specialty shop.
It has, in recent years, branched out past just selling vinyl and CD to an assortment of odd horror, comic book, classic film, and music related bric-a-brac and T-shirts. The shop has also spun off a national T-shirt printing company with semi-exclusive licensing deals, and is also reissuing vinyl discs of classic records.
Across the street from Drastic Plastic is Homer’s, at 1210 Howard St. Homer’s in the Old Market still has an impressive collection of CDs, DVDs and vinyl for sale, but the company is merely a shade of its former glory.
The shop was once a chain that spread throughout the area, with shops on Saddle Creek, in Bellevue and out west. All of those satellites have some crashing down, coalescing in the sole downtown location that exists now. With sales of physical albums diminishing over the last 20 years, small record shop closings aren’t shocking.
One of the most beloved record stores in Omaha and a pillar of local music scene was Antiquarium Records, which closed its doors on Sept. 30, 2012, shortly after its owner, David Sink, passed away.
The shop used to be a gathering place for music fans to learn and discover. The final owners of the shop have hopes of reopening it some day. However, in a world increasingly consumed by free art, music streaming and unbeatable Internet pricing, who is to say if that will happen.
Seeing the drastic cuts and changes that local record shops have had to make to get by is a bit discouraging. However, knowing that small neighborhood shops, with friendly staffs that are willing to talk about music with their customers still exist should get people excited. Knowledge and community can be found in local record stores, if we only take some time to search the bins and get suggestions.
If you don’t want to lose these places, then you need to get off the computer and get in the shops.