Spin Doctors

Record Alley, which has been in the valley for 36 years, scratches the digital trend with new vinyl and old-school music memorabilia

Record Alley co-owners Jim and Shelly Stephens have kept their music store business thriving for 36 years.

“Big-box stores started selling CDs near cost around ’95, which started to impact smaller record stores,” says Record Alley co-owner Jim Stephens. “Around 2000, downloading became an even bigger issue, leading many of these stores to close their doors.” Kids coming of age and cruising the mall around the turn of the century likely remember shops like Record Alley — where you could drop by, tune in, and check out. 

Located in Palm Desert’s Westfield Mall, the Record Alley originally opened in 1978 on North Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, when eight-tracks were more popular than vinyl and had yet to be overshadowed by cassette tapes. “Some of my best memories are from the old store in the early ’80s,” Stephens says. “In ’83, they had concerts at the old Bronco Billy’s in Cathedral City. It was quite a show for the valley — concerts were rare then, especially after the ’69 riots at Angel Stadium. Felony, Sparks, and Missing Persons were the headliners, and Missing Persons did an in-store signing here that drew hundreds of fans who lined up all around the building.”

A move to the mall later that decade meant steeper rent and greater pressure to keep business turning. Attracting visits by such artists as Billy Gibbons, Barry Manilow, and Alice Cooper, Record Alley also made news for more rowdy appearances by bands like New Boyz, whose on-site dance contest caused a riot and subsequent coverage by KESQ.

Fearful that their shop would suffer the fate of the Sam Goodys of the industry in the early 2000s, Stephens and his wife, Shelly, played outside of the box and began “experimenting with merchandise” that would keep customers interested. It turns out the newest item is also the oldest — or at least a version of it. “The only music we sell is on new vinyl,” he says. “Mostly classic rock, but current stuff too.” The rest is on used tapes and CDs.

Music lovers of the old and new schools alike seem to still appreciate artist memorabilia, from Beatles T-shirts to Bob Marley posters and Pink Floyd sew-on patches. Perhaps what keep fans coming back, aside from a hit of nostalgia, is the shop’s exclusive items. “Just about everything we carry is unique to our store,” Stephens says. “We stay away from products you’ll find at other places.” 

Record Alley, 760-341-2017; www.recordalley.com

Comments to this website are moderated by staff. While all comments are welcome, we encourage all to be polite and please do not use this system for advertising or business promotions. Any complaint towards a business or service should be directed directly to that business and not posted here. If anyone has a complaint that a comment is defamatory, please contact me at tmay@palmspringslife.com and I will take appropriate action promptly. Thank You

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Palm Springs Life
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Soukie Modern Unveils Handcrafted Moroccan Home Goods at Pop-up Party

Los Angeles modeling head Kenya Knight has teamed up with co-founder Taib Lofti to preview Soukie Modern, the tandem's line of vintage Moroccan rugs, wedding blankets, pillows, and more at its Pop-up Party March 7 in Palm Springs.

(Not) Just Dandy

Born with impeccable style, fashionisto Patrick McDonald became famous when photographer Bill Cunningham began splashing photos of him across The New York Times Style pages.

Heavenly Creatures

Whimsical florals and feminine flair find a romantic fashion revival this spring.

Fifty Shades Of Grey

The juicy trilogy and movie coming out in February inspire us to dress (or undress) the part. Here’s a list of stores that carry items to woo your valentine.

The Revolution Heads Uptown

With the Palm Springs renaissance in full swing, it’s no surprise that the Uptown Design District has blossomed into a thriving community of shops, restaurants, and bars.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest

Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest

Enter your “Cutest Pet” photo in the Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest. Online users will be able to like the Cutest Pet photos from six (6) categories.
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.