Tunes (Music store, NJ)
Tunes CDs is still around, even in the same center it’s always been, but since it moved from its original location in that center, the magic seems to be gone (could just be me, though). Tunes was my primary source of tapes and CDs during high school and, boy, did I drop some change there. I even put some of my own tapes up for sale there, on commission. Sure, a few years later I found each and every one of them in a cassette clearance bin for 25 cents (I was allowed to take them all back for free), but hey, they were looking to help a kid out. In their later years, Tunes started carrying used vinyl and had some real gems in there. Their new location is signficantly smaller and I’m pretty sure their reggae selection is made up of the exact same CDs that were there in 1993. They’ll always hold a special place in my heart, as purchases from there make up a significant portion of my music collection.
That One Used Bookstore (Fredericksburg, VA)
That wasn’t actually its name… I just don’t remember what it was really called. Back in my second or third year of college I discovered an amazing used bookstore in downtown Fredericksburg. It was the quintessential used book store: it was dusty, it had boxes and boxes of unsorted books, and they had an upstairs area that few people ventured to. But if there was something obscure you were looking for, they had it. There was a goofy little sci-fi series that I’d been looking for for quite a while, but was never able to find anything other than the one book I already had. This store, though, had the entire series. Sadly, a year after I originally found it, I headed downtown for a visit and found it had been replaced with another used bookstore. But the new store had wood floors, was super-clean, and featured mainly antique books.
Smalls (jazz club, New York City)
I first heard of Smalls when I picked up a CD of songs recorded there. During a visit to New York about eight years ago, I stopped by Small’s for a late-night jazz session. When I paid my $10 cover and headed down the stairs into the club, I immediately fell in love. This wasn’t a pretentious two-drink-minimum jazz club like Birdland. It was actually kind of a dump. A couch stretched around the dark, dank room, portions of it soaked with water that was dripping from the ceiling. Getting into the bathroom required stepping around puddles on the floor. And there was a bar… but you had to serve yourself. The music, though, was excellent, and continued well beyond when I left. Apparently, it was normal for trios to come and play until 4 or 5am for whoever would stick around. The vibe was perfect and I’m sad that I only got to visit once before it shut down. (Hey, good news: Looks like Smalls is back! It’s just cleaned up a bit and under new ownership, but with the same vibe.)