Last week marked the end of a too-short era.
Top Shelf Records, a music and video rental store in Corinth, closed Friday.
Top Shelf owner Todd Gurley announced the store's closing via the store's MySpace page and cited - what else? - the economy for its downfall. Top Shelf was open just five years. In this fast-paced, digital age, record stores are dying.
With Top Shelf gone, I only know of one other independently owned record store in Northeast Mississippi.
My favorite thing about Top Shelf was that Gurley kept a fresh stock of vinyl records on hand. I know plenty of antique stores, flea markets and other stores that carry a limited supply, but outside Top Shelf, Blue Heaven in Water Valley and Purple Haze in Oxford, there really were no record stores that sold, well, records. With all three of those stores closed, there isn't a place in Northeast Mississippi where vinyl lovers can get their fix.
I admit I buy most of my music digitally - a fact that, while true, breaks my heart - so I can't say I need a physical record store anymore. But what I do need, and what I so desperately miss, is a place for music fans to gather, talk music, hang out, create art and hear good music.
This time 10 years ago, I was easy to find - I was always in a record store, checking out album covers, listening to what tunes the store was playing, even checking out the fellow music lovers. I met my first boyfriend in a record store, and we bonded over our mutual love for Metallica. It was through him that I discovered my love for punk bands like the Misfits, Operation Ivy, Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys. That first boyfriend is still one of my closest friends today.
And to think, it all started in a record store. A record store that's no longer open.
But it's through my friendship with that first boyfriend, and in the way I still listen to the music he turned me on to, that that record store will live on. That Top Shelf spirit that Gurley created will also continue in the music I and so many others discovered there, and in the friendships forged in that small space.
In a heartfelt note on Facebook, Gurley wrote that Top Shelf was more than just a place that sold CDs, records and movies.
"(I had no idea) it would be such a gathering place. Such a breeding ground for creativity and art. A second home ... a refuge," he wrote.
"Corinth needed Top Shelf. I needed a place like Top Shelf."
We all need a place like Top Shelf.
Sheena Barnett is an entertainment reporter for the Daily Journal. Contact her at email@example.com, or call (662) 678-1580.