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Friday, March 12, 2010

In Store w/ Recycled Records, Where Vinyl Killed the CD Star

Posted By on Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 11:08 AM

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In Store spotlights San Francisco's quirkiest, most beloved, weirdest, and/or otherwise-most-interesting record stores. Our city's unmistakable friskiness and cultural capital emanate from those dusty, creaky, hard-to-find, money-losing, insanely huge, hilariously small, and often-crowded (at least with stuff) outposts of recorded music. We're always hunting for choice music outlets, but if you're curious about a specific one, please send useful information to iportmusic@gmail.com.

Name: Recycled Records

Location: 1377 Haight St.

Tagline: "Buying and selling collectibles since 1977."

Owner: Bruce Lyalls

Famous customers: Michael Jackson, Fred Schneider, Graham Nash, Billy Corgan, and members of the Wu-Tang Clan.

Michael Jackson!?: One Sunday night after closing time about nine years ago, a small group of people knocked on the door and asked if they could come in. One of them was David Gest -- who had been in the store before -- and another was dressed kinda like a sheikh, according to the employees who were there. The sheikh-looking guy was MJ. "He bought some Diana Ross records," Lyalls said. "He couldn't imagine why he didn't have them."

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Feel: Classic record store: A long, boxy space thick with records from the floor to chest level, with huge shelves up some walls. Dimly lit. Customers bustling in and out even at noontime on a weekday. Precious discs at the front behind the register. Vintage and random posters on the walls. A few racks of CDs in the back.

Watch out for: Crazies who come in off Haight St. During the interview, a guy wearing sunglasses suddenly burst in shouting some tune in a hoarse voice, drowning out the record playing and pretty much every other sound in the store. Lyalls ignored it for a bit, then yelled at him to be quiet like it's a routine thing. "Kenny's 'special,' as they say," Lyalls explained later. "He just comes in and brags about what he got down at Amoeba cheap."

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Creation story: "I was unemployed, unemployable [and] got a job at Rasputin's on Telegraph Ave. back in the 70s," Lyalls recalls. "A young guy whom I got hired with me called me up one night and said, 'You want to start a store?' I said, 'Yeah sure, only one problem: I'm broke." And he said, 'Don't worry, my old man's loaded." Lyalls and his partner Jeff Graham (son of then-KSAN Director Jerry Graham) launched Recycled Records on upper Grant Ave in North Beach. Within a year, they opened the Haight St. store that's now home base. Graham went on to be a reporter for USA Today about a year or two after they started, and Lyalls has been running it since.

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Ian S. Port

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