“I’ve never been here before.” said my friend Steve’s wife. I was meeting Steve to trade one of my albums for a Led Zeppelin II Robert Ludwig hot mix. I was surprised that his wife had never set foot in Double Decker before, because Steve is there about three times a week. So am I. As a matter of fact, I’ve met a lot of people there. A little while back I wrote a piece on why I like vinyl and in it I mentioned a store that really got me interested in records. Double Decker is that store.
Double Decker is located at 808 St. John Street in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Jamie, the proprieter, runs the place on the philosophy that his store is “not a museum.” That shrinkwrapped copy of Cro-Mags Age of Quarrel - that copy of Muddy Waters’ Electric Mud with the booklet insert – that U.S. pressing of the first Danzig album – even that esoteric psych album on the wall that looks cool – those things are not there as a conversation pieces for you to drool over everytime you go in. They’re for sale and priced to move. And if there is something you want, you should grab it. Chances are the next time you’re in it will be gone.
One of the store’s attractions is “The Fifty Cent Room” where everything is (you guessed it) fifty cents a piece. You will find LPs, 45′s, and 78s all of which did not quite make the cut to be in the main part of the store. Shoppers spend hours in this large room and walk out with records by the box-load. Just yesterday I bought a bunch of 78s for a little over $20.
We all have our stories about albums we’ve kicked ourselves for over-paying for, and what I like about Jamie’s store is that it is realistic and trustworthy for pricing. I’ve lost count of how many gems I’ve found at this place for more-than-fair prices and in great condition. Last week I picked up a mono white label promo copy of the self-titled Eddie Cochran album on the Liberty label. I’ve seen that record at music expos for triple digits, and trust me I paid much less for it at Double Decker.
“These records aren’t gonna price themselves.” Jamie frequently says with his price gun in hand, trying to keep up with a fluid inventory that is constantly changing. This is not a place where you are going to see the same assortment over and over again. And if there is something you are looking for, chances are it will show up sooner or later. Having been around for more than 15 years, Double Decker sets the bar high for what can be expected of a record store.