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Published on September 16th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


Charleston Record Expo: The Ultimate Vinyl Show at Monster

Vinyl slabs will be abundant in West Ashley this weekend when Monster Music & Movies, Charleston’s largest and busiest record shop, presents its bi-annual Charleston Record Expo on Sat. Sept 21 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The event will feature an extensive sale in a space between Monster and the World Market at the West Ashley Shoppes (across from the Citadel Mall) with dozens of local and outta-town collectors and vendors offering crates and stacks of vintage and rare vinyl (33s, 45s, 78s, singles, EPs), imports, CDs, cassettes, and other various collectables.


Monster Music in West Ashley (photo by Ballard Lesemann)

Parking and admission will be free and open to the public. Refueler’s Mobile Café food truck will be on hand with Filipino fusion fare.

Allison Merrick of SpaceCraft Studios in West Ashley will conduct a workshop on shaping vinyl records into bowls between 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Papa Robbie’s Reggae All Stars (featuring members of local band the Dubplates) will perform live at Monster Music on the main stage at 2 p.m. They’ll be asking for donations for the Montego Bay Animal Haven, a rescue center for abandoned and sick animals the northwest of Jamaica.

Metronome Charleston chatted with Monster Music manager Galen Hudson this week about the big vinyl-centric event.

Metronome Charleston: How many Record Expos has Monster hosted at this location so far? Six?

Galen Hudson: Yes, this is the sixth one. Our first was in the spring of 2011, and it was wildly successful, so we planned another one for the fall and decided to do them twice yearly at that point.

Metronome Charleston: These events have become a bi-annual tradition there. Do you see a lot of new vendors each time or do you notice mostly the same local and vendors visitors — coming in like a groups of seasoned regulars?

Galen Hudson: There is a core group of dealers that go to record shows around the Southeast as often as possible. It’s their weekend job. Several of our dealers fit that description and have done all or most of our shows. Every time, there are new people who express interest in selling at the shows. Some are regular record show people, and some are just hobbyists who haven’t done one before, or maybe only a very few. Sometimes, people just have a lot of records at the house and want to sell them via the most efficient way — direct to consumer — and this is it. The show sells out quickly every time. We have ways of squeezing in extra people. But the market dictates performance. If the sellers don’t have good stuff, their business is poor.


Rare/weird records at Monster Music (photo by Ballard Lesemann)

Metronome Charleston: What are some of types of high-dollar treasures you’ve noticed for sale at the Record Expos — 78s, 33s in pristine-condition, rare imports, stuff by obscure artists, etc.?

Galen Hudson: I haven’t seen much in the way of 78s, and it’s not even a good show for 45s, though there are some. It’s definitely an album show, and the amount of cool stuff I’ve seen just never ceases to blow my mind. I’ve curtailed my hardcore collecting, but occasionally I run across something I just have to have, like the pristine Dr. Demento box set someone had last year. There’s all kinds of imports — Hendrix and Pink Floyd … original pressings Dylan and Beatles, which, when they’re in nice shape, cause one to drool. But I’m not in the market for stuff like that myself anymore.

Metronome Charleston: If someone had a small budget but plenty of time to spend at the Record Expo, what advice would you give them? What should their strategy be as they approach it on Sept. 21?

Galen Hudson: Small budget but plenty of time. Well, there are at least a dozen different dealers, and they’re all going to be different. Pick one, and if as you’re scanning through a box, the mix doesn’t really jump out at you, move on to another one and maybe come back later. There’s going to be expensive stuff there, but more reasonably priced stuff as well. But if you see something you want and tell yourself maybe you’ll come back for it later, odds are it won’t be there when you come back.

Dealers will generally hold things for you for a short time. They’re nice folks, so be nice in return, and if you change your mind, let them know so they can try to sell it to someone else. Another tidbit of advice is don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes. It’s pretty common to spend $20 for a record at one table that you find at another table for $10. It’s not that big a deal. Condition might be better with the one you bought, anyway.

Metronome Charleston: What are the toughest challenges for you and the Monster Music & Movies staff during a big Record Expo Day?

Galen Hudson: The day itself is pretty much a breeze, aside from the physical labor of moving a bunch of heavy record boxes — and on us 40-somethings, it starts to take its toll. The larger part of it is the planning and prep work in the days and weeks leading up to it.

Metronome Charleston: Personally, as a music fan and vinyl enthusiast, what do you most look forward to at these events?

Galen Hudson: From day one, what sold me on the shows is the camaraderie with the dealers. I feel like they’ve been my friends my whole life, and hanging out with them and shooting the breeze is by far the most enjoyable part of the day. Although, talking music with dealers and customers alike is what sold me on the business to begin with. The greatest thing about working and shopping in record stores is all the connections you make with like-interested people. You make a lot of friends in the record store. Hell, I’ve known plenty of people who met their future spouses in the record store.


Papa Robbie (provided)

Metronome Charleston: Will there be any new products like music magazines, DVDs, attire, and books for sale on Sept. 21?

Galen Hudson: Nothing really in the way of new products that day. It’s a used record day beyond anything else. Mostly albums. There will be a smattering of collectables, magazines, 8-tracks, and what-not, but not much.

Metronome Charleston: How long will the Papa Robbie’s Reggae All Stars perform in the store, and how can people donate to their Montego Bay Animal Haven cause?

Galen Hudson: Papa Robbie will be performing for approximately an hour, starting at 2 p.m. Donations can be made to Robbie or Allison themselves, or to an Monster employee at the register. Don’t forget that from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Allison from Space Craft Studios will be teaching anyone interested how to make record bowls. Bowls will be free, but suggested donations will be accepted to support Girls Rock Charleston.

Metronome Charleston: How has the Record Expo series changed or evolved since it kicked off years ago at Monster?

Galen Hudson: As for changing and evolving, the first show was so successful that we’ve spun a lot of wheels trying to make it grow and evolve … without a whole lot of success! Unfortunately, Charleston’s not the size or strength of a city like Austin that has a weekend-long show with enough tables to fit a football field. What we hit on at the very beginning, we now realize, is exactly what it needed to be. As more people appreciate and get into vinyl, perhaps it will expand into a bigger space. One adjustment we did make early on is to limit it to vinyl. The people who brought posters, comic books, and even CDs did very poorly. It’s a vinyl show, and that’s it. People in the area are hungry for vinyl, and we’re trying to give them what they want.

Charleston Record Expo takes place at Monster Music at 946 Orleans Road in West Ashley on Sat. Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit or call the store at (843) 571-4657 for updates.




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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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