- Scott Elmquist
- Memory Lane founder Walter Smith with manager Gene Pembleton. Smith offers tips to neophyte collectors: "Look for quantity or bulk lots to start. Good suppliers would be yard sales, estate sales and record dealers like ourselves."
Before music store veteran Gene Pembleton can share his thoughts on record collecting, he must "turn down Jimi." The soundtrack is typically doo-wop and Perry Como over at Memory Lane Records where Pemberton is manager, but this morning Hendrix is the platter du jour.
It's proof that you never know what you'll find when you go to a shop such as Memory Lane. The specialty is out-of-print recordings, but inevitably it's a place where all sorts of vinyl lands and treasures surface from the bottom of dusty stacks.
"I'm opening up the special drawer," Pembleton says when asked about his rare finds. "We got something that I had never seen personally," he says. "This is made out of paper and some sort of vinyl. It's "Seasons Greetings from the Beatles 1964," an official fan club record in near mint condition that he says has probably been played only once. "This thing books at $300," he adds.
It's not just Beatles rarities that are coveted. "Old 78s sell like hotcakes. That's our best-seller," Pembleton says. He adds that original-label rockabilly, sunshine pop rock of the '60s and Northern soul is also highly desirable. "Condition is everything though," he cautions. "Something can be worth $200 and if it has a scratch you can cut it in half."
Memory Lane's partner brand, Record Smith, specializes in silent auctions, which are key to collectors. "We release a list of about 20,000 individual pieces to our mailing list and on our website," says Pembleton, who also acts as co-hosts on "The British Breakfast" program on WRIR-FM 97.3. "Usually, there's a minimum silent bid of $3 and if someone really wants something they might bid 10 percent higher than the highest bid," he says. For folks thinking about starting a collection, the sonic sage gives this advice: "Start off as a music lover who likes records and then as you experiment with different genres figure out what you want to hone in on and collect," Pembleton says. "Come talk to people like us. We'll point you in the right direction."
Memory Lane Records is located at 6114-C Lakeside Avenue. For more information, call 804-261-1511 or go to vamemorylanerecords.com or recordsmith.com.