I don’t often make it to the coastal areas of San Diego any more, and these days when I do it’s the coastal areas near San Diego, not so much the North County coastal areas. I opted for a nice drive down the coast and when I neared Encinitas, it struck me that it’s been ages since I last visited Lou’s Records on Coast Highway.
I spent a fortune there back in the day as they were the best place to get import CDs back when I used to buy a lot of music. In fact, my very first visit was an expensive one as I found some amazing hard to get ABBA imports that to this day I’ve never seen anywhere outside of overpriced eBay auctions. Lou’s Records was also the store where I did my very first special order of an import, which was for a Swedish language solo album by Marie Fredriksson of Roxette. So when I decided to stop in at Lou’s I wasn’t sure they were even still around as it seems stores dedicated to selling music are harder to find than they used to be. Fortunately Lou’s was still there and I was instantly nostalgic for the hours I would spend combing the racks there for the many treasures I would find there.
When I stepped inside it was definitely mixed emotions as the store looked vastly different from how it used to. The counter which was always to the left of the entrance was now to the right and the former counter was now opened up into a vinyl section with loads of light coming in from the windows that I don’t know if they were always there or not because that section used to be employees only. Looking to the back of the store, there were more windows where floor to ceiling shelves of CDs used to be. There was just too much natural light in what used to feel like an underground cave of music. It was a bit disconcerting.
Also the carpet was gone leaving concrete floors although traces of the carpet could be seen under some of the permanent shelves along the walls. The store seemed to be a shadow of it’s former floor to ceiling shelves loaded with endless rows of compact discs, now promotional album artwork hides some of the upper shelves that were out of arm’s reach. In a way it’s sad to see the shelves not nearly as well stocked as they used to be, but at the same time, it’s just a reality of the music business, there isn’t as much selling as there used to be. And there used to be a tiny section devoted to DVDs, now there was a rather large section of DVDs. A quick look at their ABBA section for nostalgia section where there used to be ton of imports was just an empty place holder card to indicate ABBA CDs should be filed there, but not a single one to be found there.
About the only thing that I saw in the main store that was the same as it used to be when I used to spend lots of money there, was one of the employees behind the counter. I recognized one from all those years ago. He looked quite a bit older, but still there. I wasn’t looking to buy so I didn’t see anything to purchase and never did say hello to the employee, who I seriously would doubt if he remembered me.
I wandered over to the “used” section which is housed in another building on the site and it looked pretty much the same as I remembered it. There was still a section of laserdiscs for sale just inside the door. I browsed through it for nostalgia sake. I wandered through looking at the various used vinyl, cassette, and CD sections. They did have a used tape copy of “ABBA: The Singles” which I guess in the US was released on a single cassette, whereas the Canadian release was two separate tapes for the double LP set and what my parents had that started my whole ABBA fandom in the first place. I was tempted but I still have my folks original tapes so I certainly didn’t need it. Not to mention I have every single one of those songs on CDs several times over, so it wasn’t necessary. But I did find one thing to purchase, a used copy of the B-52’s “Good Stuff” album. I have had the single for that song since it came out, but I never bought the album, so at $1.99, it was at a price I couldn’t refuse.
I’m glad I stopped in because it was a nice walk down memory lane, and while it was a bit sad to see the store with so little inventory compared to how it used to be, but I’m still very happy to see them still open. I just wasn’t in the market for any of the new music to make a purchase of anything new. On the way out, I put my iPod on random and one of the songs that came up, “Love Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” by Per Gessle of Roxette came on and even though the lyrics didn’t suit my drive, the melody was just perfect for the fantastic drive down the coast line. It’s been ages since I’ve listened to that song and I just enjoyed how wonderful it sounded with San Diego’s coastline as my background.