Gold Million Records — formerly known as Plastic Fantastic — has hosted the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Lene Lovich, Joan Jett, the Jam, the Thompson Twins, the Alarm, Chubby Checker, Todd Rundgren, and countless others since it opened in 1976. Now, after 42 years, the Bryn Mawr music mecca is closing.
The owners, Harold Gold and Max I. Million, are responsible for amassing the store's 50,000-odd LPs and 45s, as well as extensive music memorabilia that goes well beyond the last four decades of music and culture. On Friday, they announced the closing with an eBay ad as bright and eclectic as their store— "LeGeNDaRY PHiLLY RoCK 'N RoLL ReCoRD SToRe iNVeNToRY 4 SaLe," it reads.
Everything in the store — from records to memorabilia — is on sale for 33 percent off (in honor of the RPMs). They want to sell most of their merchandise before they close for good.
Gold Million had already downsized once, in 2004 when it moved from Ardmore to Bryn Mawr and changed names. This will be a long undertaking, considering the extent of their collection. Though the store seems packed with vintage goods (it doesn't sell new releases), Gold and Million have even more merchandise and records at their apartment above the store, and the basement.
Gold and Million plan on continuing to sell their wares online once they retire, but they look forward to spending more time traveling and with family.
The store has a floor-to-floor collage of photos and newspaper clippings, many signed, which document the store's illustrious guests.
"He's eating a can of dog food … and then he spit it out into the crowd, and he signed the wall, 'Iggy eats here,'" said Gold, describing a photo of a young Iggy Pop towering over a rapturous crowd in the original shop in Ardmore. The room is packed with long-haired teenagers.
"Right after we opened, this whole New Wave thing kicked in, and I worked in record companies, so I had contacts," Gold said of his famous visitors.
Million said they hosted most of their guests prior to the artists' careers taking off. She recalled, "They were babies at the time. The record company said, 'We have a brand-new artist, her name is Joan Jett, she's, like, sort of punky and wild. Would you consider having her come to sign some records?' I said, sure. We didn't even know who she was."
Although Gold Million served the Main Line and beyond, some of the customers included the artists who visited. "When the Runaways came with Joan Jett, they all bought Saturday Night Fever," said Gold, "and we had the police in here, they all bought jazz records." In the pre-internet era, the shop was vital to music culture, a place where fans' idols became real. The owners said most record stores have a specialty, but their shop has it all.
Along with the records, amassed mostly from private collectors and meticulously combed through, cleaned, and organized, the shop sells a variety of artifacts. These includes racks of "new old stock" T's and sweatshirts, which Million said are the excess stock of vintage concert merchandise, preserved in their original condition by clothing companies and eventually sold off. The shop also sells "anything counterculture" — among the gems is a plastic-sleeved People magazine noting the death of John Lennon, several gold records, signed posters, art, and guitars, clocks, and other trinkets that Million creates from scratched records.
On their plans to close, Gold acknowledged, "It's surreal, a little, it's making us a little nervous."
"We don't really feel it yet, but just the thought of it makes our stomachs tingly," Million added.
"I think it was really huge for the community because a lot of the older community … they're still listening to records," said Million.
"And their kids are now our customers," said Gold, pointing out a woman and her son who were browsing through some Beatles albums.