Thursday, September 5, 2013

Vienna Music Exchange - Vienna, Virginia

Basic Information: 
Name: Vienna Music Exchange
Location: 131 Church St NW, #4, Vienna, VA.

Location: Grade B+:  I stumbled across this place while riding my bike along the WO&D bike path.   The store is actually a couple of blocks off the bike path (we were looking for an ice cream store); and is buried in an older residential structure that's been converted into a commercial building.   There's plenty of free street parking and the building has a small parking lot for customers.

Staff: Grade B:  One person (guess it was the owner - Manical Mike Pritchard  ?).   Nice enough.   Asked me if I was looking for anything in particular and suggested a couple of piles of stuff I might want to look through.  Spent considerable time talking to the other customer in the store and clearly knew lots about heavy metal and local bands - 'course the store tagline is "BEST SELECTION OF METAL IN THE DC/NORTHERN VIRGINIA AREA"

Inventory: Grade B   So I'm guessing the store has about 5,000 LPs;  a smaller inventory of CDs, some tee-shirts and music related material.   I overheard the owner say he has a ton more stuff at home and if you're looking for specifics he'd be willing to check his home stash.

Pricing: Grade B:   Kind of hard for me to be fair here since I'm not a big heavy metal guy.   The inventory I'm familiar with (pop, rock, soul) was a touch on the high side.   Lots of fairly common yard sale genre albums in the $7 - $9 range with prices going up from there.  Again, the heavy metal stuff may be more aptly priced.   I'm just not smart enough to know.

Facility: Grade C:  If you are claustrophobic, this place could pose an issue to your health.  As mentioned, it's located in an old home that's been modified into a commercial space with a half dozen small businesses tucked into the structure.   The store itself is up a flight of stairs in what was probably one of the original bedrooms.   I'm guessing it's about 8 feet by 8 feet with record bins and assorted merchandise taking up 80% of the space.  Getting three folks in the room would be tight.  Getting more than that would pose a significant logistical challenge.   There is a certain degree of organization to the material, but I couldn't quite figure it all out.  I found an online photo of the place, though be forewarned, it's even tighter than the photo would have you think.   Pop and rock is in one area; soul and R&B; blues-rock/country-rock; heavy metal, and even jazz (!) are all in their own little spaces. Most of it seems to be filed alphabetically, though there are  occasional surprises.   This is clearly a part-time job for the owner so the store has limited hours:  12 - 5 Thursday through Sundays.   I'd suggest calling to make sure they're open.

Damages:  Since I was riding a bike, I didn't want to haul a ton of records around with me.  I ended up buying 5  LPs (mostly rock), including an album by the French band Ocean and an Aretha Franklin LP (the latter was probably the one bargain I found).   Total cost was under $50.


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