Village Record Shoppe / Phase II Records

How Kiss and Coca-Cola bottles led me to discover my first independent record store.

When I reached the age of fourteen, I was beginning to purchase some full-length albums as well as the more budget-friendly 45’s. I had to do more planning and saving to purchase a full album, even more so if the album was a two-record set. The first of these double albums to appear on my wish list was a brand-new release from the band Kiss, “Kiss Alive II.”

At the private Christain school that I was attending, Kiss was considered a Satanic no-no for the students’ musical choices. The staff tried to convince us of eternal damnation if our young ears should hear the strains “Rock and Roll All Nite” but the more convincing voice was that of the Kiss marketing team, who were really earning their pay with this release. They tempted us with not only with the thrill of a fire-breathing, blood-spitting, flame-erupting, guitar-smashing, amplifier-shredding concert, but also five brand-new studio tracks, a color “Evolution of Kiss” booklet and a set of Kiss tattoos. The radio and TV ads confirmed it. I wanted to be the first kid in my apartment complex to own this one, so the first Saturday after the release, I hopped the Marta bus to Richway in Roswell.

I had counted up all of my cash and coinage and found that I had ten bucks and change saved up, hoping that would cover my entry into the world of double live-album ownership. When I arrived at the Richway record department, I found the L.P. on display. I don’t remember the exact price anymore, but it was close to twelve dollars. I had to re-think my strategy.

One way that I had drummed up money in those days was to collect the glass soda bottles that had been discarded alongside the road. They could be returned for a cash deposit at just about any convenience store. If I remember correctly, the ten-ounce size returnable was worth five cents and if you were lucky, you could pick up a 32-ounce size and score twenty cents.

Being so close but not quite to my needed cash amount, I began to look for the return deposit bottles alongside Roswell Road. I had scored one, but I could not find any more, so I decided to look behind the shopping plaza across from Richway, called Roswell Village. The shopping center was “L”-shaped and had a breezeway in the bend that led out to the back side. I was using this breezeway to cut through when I noticed a small shop inside the breezeway called “Village Record Shoppe.” I had discovered my very first “indie” record store.

Village Record Shoppe was not very large but had a simple and easy to browse layout. Upon entering, you would find the checkout counter to your right and the records in racks and wall displays to the left. I have not been able to find much historical information on this independent “mom and pops” store, such as their opening date, but the names of the owners were most likely Dan and Jack. The Roswell Village shopping center opened in 1973.

Of course, the Village Record Shoppe had the new “Kiss Alive II” album, and it was cheaper than the price at Richway which meant that I now had enough cash to purchase the record and still have the bus fare home. Only a new dilemma now appeared. Also on display, I spied a brand-new album: “Magazine” by Heart. I had heard the lead track “Heartless” played once on 94-Q recently, but I did not know there was a new Heart album out there for sale. Richway did not have any copies of this. I liked Heart even more than Kiss and considered buying “Magazine” instead but since my mission had been to bring home all of the bells and whistles and tattoos of “Kiss Alive II” that day, Kiss was the band I went to the cash register with.

I returned to the bus stop with my new album, but once there I couldn’t wait to open it and see all of the goodies inside. It had a gatefold cover that opened to show the huge Kiss concert stage with rising platforms, framed by flames and fireworks. If the teachers at school could see me with this… well, apparently one of them did. At school the next week one of my teachers suspiciously asked me “did I see you at the bus stop holding a Kiss album?” Not only had I purchased a Kiss LP and displayed it at a public transit stop, took it into my home and played all four sides, I was now going even further to the dark side, suggesting to the teacher that she must have seen some other kid from some other school holding the unholy release as she drove by.

I knew I had to get back to the Village Record Shoppe and buy that new Heart album. I would have to start saving allowance, mowing some lawns and even stashing those soda bottles. In the meantime, I phoned up 94-Q and asked them if they would play the new Heart song “Heartless” again. They granted my wish, and I was able to record it on a blank 8-track tape. A couple of weeks later I told my older cousin about the “Magazine” album, and then the next time I saw him, he told me that he had been to a record store and asked about “Magazine.” He learned that the store had been ordered to remove the album from sale and ship them back to the distributor! Was this the Almighty’s vengeance for me buying a Kiss album and then insinuating that one of my teachers was possibly nearsighted?

With the discovery of Village Record Shoppe, I now had a real record store that I could get to by myself via the bus. There was also a five and dime store in Roswell Village called TG&Y who sold 45’s. I would sometimes spend an afternoon going between TG&Y, Village Record Shoppe and Richway, looking at the records at all three places and even adding the new Roswell Kmart into my route when it opened in late 1979.

I remember buying my first copy of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” at Village Record Shoppe in the summer of 1978 when the album was experiencing a resurgence on the charts. I had been listening to a copy that belonged to the mother of my best friend Jimmy, since the previous summer and liked it enough to want a copy of my very own. That summer Capitol Records had released the track “Sgt. Pepper/With A Little Help From My Friends” as a single and had also added a hype sticker to the front of the “Pepper” album jackets stating “The Original Classic.” This was in response to the new RSO Records “Sgt. Pepper” movie soundtrack starring the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton. When I bought my copy of the Beatles’ classic up to the register, the owner looked kind of puzzled and said “This is the third copy I’ve sold this week.”

In the spring of 1978, Heart’s “Magazine” album was finally re-released for sale. The gentlemen at Village Record Shoppe knew I had been after this one, so they kept me aware of its return. I purchased my copy from them, clutching the vinyl treasure tightly just in case there should suddenly be another court order to pull the record out of existence. Once I began playing the new album on my stereo later that day, I was quite surprised to discover that “Heartless” was quite a different version than the one that I had recorded off the radio a few months earlier. (I will save the rest of that story for another blog entry coming up).

I continued to shop at Village Record Shoppe through the end of 1978. That year I managed obtain my first three-record set there, the live “Wings Over America” album. I also purchased my very first picture disc album there. Sometime after Christmas, Village Record Shoppe relocated to the new shopping plaza, Brannon Square, which was located within walking distance from Roswell Village. The move saw them with a storefront that was now visible from the parking lot and also a brand-new name to go with it, Phase II Records and Tapes.

Phase II (at least from my memory) was a slightly larger store than before. When entering the store, the sales counter was on the right, and to the left was the 45 singles display. Posted on the wall over the singles, shoppers could always find a copy of the latest Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

One piece of decorative memorabilia that I can remember admiring at Phase II, was their “Rubber Soul” mirror. This was a very limited promotional item created by Capitol Records in 1975 to be given to select radio stations and music retailers. The mirrors were 20 X 30 inches and had the artwork from The Beatles’ album “Rubber Soul” in the reflection.

I don’t remember buying any records at Phase II after 1980. It’s possible that the store moved again. I have seen business listings for two different Phase II locations during the years of 1981 and 1982 but have not been able to confirm any connection to the 1979-80 Roswell store. They will always be an important part of my record collecting adventure as my first introduction to independent record stores.

Former location of Phase II Records and Tapes in Brannon Square Plaza

Some Of My Records From Phase II

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