Sunday, March 12, 2006

Silver Spring: Back in the Day - Part Three

This installment of Silver Spring: Back in the Day will deal with record stores - something that was quite an important subject to me way back when. There was a trio of stores in Silver Spring at which I shopped back in the late 80's and early 90's, all of which are now long gone.


Back in the Day: Nobody Beats the Wiz
Now: Silver Spring Dialysis
Location: 8412 Georgia Avenue

This building, of course, is the old Silver Spring post office, but bizarrely, after the post office closed, it housed a “Nobody Beats the Wiz” retail store. At the time, I was at prime CD-purchasing age and I thought this was the greatest thing to happen to Silver Spring - ever. It was actually a really nice store, with a high ceiling, wood floors, and a small parking lot in the back. I no longer had to go to those crappy record stores in Wheaton Plaza or make the trek down to Georgetown to buy CDs. (Remember when Georgetown was full of record stores?) The front of the old post office had a big “WIZ” sign on it. I really wish I had a picture of this somewhere.

Like most other retail stores in Silver Spring, it didn’t really work out, as the Wiz left and the building ultimately became some sort of health care office. Although I’m sure it is required by the ADA, I think the wheelchair ramp added on to the front of the building looks kind of crappy.

Back in the Day:
Compact Discovery
Now: Pinto Thai
Location: 8223 Georgia Avenue

I’m not sure how long this cleverly named store was around, but it had pretty decent prices on used CDs, which made it an OK place in my eyes. For whatever reason, the bald guy glared at us when we came in and generally seemed angry that we were patronizing his business. Perhaps he was just grumpy. This space is now occupied by a Thai restaurant, which actually supplanted another Thai restaurant called Thai Spice Cafe in this same location. I don’t know if both restaurants have the same owner or not.


Back in the Day: Vinyl Ink
Now: The Pennyworth Shop
Location: 955 Bonifant Street

Vinyl Ink was by far the most unique of the three shops, and specialized in vinyl and less-mainstream recordings. (Think Championship Vinyl from High Fidelity, only a lot smaller.)

Here’s a pretty good description of Vinyl Ink from the 2002 Washington City Paper obituary of shop owner George Gelestino:

"I don't think they have record stores like that anymore," says Pitchblende and Turing Machine guitarist Justin Chearno, who worked at Vinyl Ink in the early '90s, along with Bridget Cross of Unrest, Mike Hammel of the Ropers, and Bill Kellum of VHF Records. "The grumpy boss; the disinterested, kind-of-drunk employees; the hardcore mailroom guy; and tons of attitude...Almost everyone who worked there was in a band.
Admittedly, I was more into mainstream stuff at that age, but I would occasionally go in to check out their used CD collection. I never really thought about it when it was around, but looking back, it is a shame that a place like this no longer exists in Silver Spring. It is now a thrift store operated by a local church.


Previous "Silver Spring: Back in the Day" entries:

Part One
Part Two



5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Vinyl Ink -- loved that store.. they turned me on to lots mind-blowing sounds. Don't forget Mike Schulman from Slumberland records who worked there for a couple of years. Mike: Thank you for turning me on to The Ex and convincing me to buy the Sonic Youth Wall's Have Ears boot (and I thought $35 was a ridiculous price for it then.. bah!) RIP George. His kid Quinn must be somewhere around 15-20 by now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the memories. The guy who named Compact Discovery was Jonathan Richstein. He was the guy who came up with the whole idea of a cd only store, the first of its kind in the DC area. Does anybody know what became of him? He was also responsible for renting the space upstairs to George Gelestino. Those were some great times.

Sarah Skillin Woodard said...

Here I am in Portland, Maine... it is early March, I've got a fire going and I'm making a chowder (no, really!) when I started thinking back to my hipper-than-though, dj/vinyl collecting days... I briefly worked as a nanny in Silver Spring and happily found (sought out) Vinyl Ink. Yes, I adored Yesterday and Todays, but Vinyl Ink was the real deal. George got me all of this odd 4AD stuff I was into at the time. I was saving up to move to Germany, which I did, but I went there with a lot less scratch due to the tremendous amount of money I spent at V.I. He always had something I absolutely had to have! That place is part of my history - who I am. I was sorry to find on the internet that George had passed away and that the store closed - almost 10 years ago! Cheers...

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