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Enjoy the Day Exploring Alamo Records & Sheet Music

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When you walk into Alamo Records & Sheet Music in San Antonio, the familiar scent of musty cardboard greets your nose like an old college drinking buddy you haven’t seen for a while. Friendly, familiar, and unchanged.

It’s the kind of smell you associate with being a young person on a Saturday night, listening to classic songs on a turntable. After playing a couple of records, you might have driven around with your buddies, too lucky or stupid to realize you’re making some of the best memories of your life right then.

If you wanted a new album, you could go out and buy it at one of those chain outlets they had back in the day. But what most of us did was go to our local records store, which was usually run by one person, who was nearly as passionate about music as we were.

Of course, the world changes. Records were replaced by CDs, then by MP3s, and so on. Independent record stores were replaced by corporate chains, which were then replaced by computer companies. We can all order music online now, just like we would order a shower curtain or a new set of steak knives.

Enjoy the Day Exploring Alamo Records & Sheet Music

Photo of Will Day, taken by Paul Ehrlich

But for some people, music isn’t just a product; it’s something special. People like Will Day, the owner of Alamo Records & Sheet Music. Will started out as a self-taught musician, playing guitar from the young age of 13. Music has always been a part of his life.

Eventually, Will garnered a collection of guitars and started selling them. At the time, he noticed that people were getting rid of all their records for CDs. So, he started buying up records for cheap in the early ’90s.

Enjoy the Day Exploring Alamo Records & Sheet Music

Photo: Paul Ehrlich

Will insists that this wasn’t a strategic move on his part. He considers himself to be “stubborn and impulsive,” and this one time, his “flaws,” as he puts it, happened to work out in the end. Will Day just likes records. He likes looking at album covers and liner notes. So, he bought a bunch of records and started selling them, not really interested in making a huge profit.

It turns out that other folks came around to Will’s way of thinking and realized that they like records too. A lot of other folks. Records have made a strong comeback. Vinyl outsold CDs this year. In 1995, that would have been unimaginable.

Enjoy the Day Exploring Alamo Records & Sheet Music

Photo: Paul Ehrlich

That’s pretty good for Will. He has a bunch of records. How much is a bunch? Well, right now, Alamo Records & Sheet Music has about 90,000 records for sale! “Will Day” and “halfway” may rhyme, but they don’t otherwise go together. Will estimates that he has about 15,000 78 RPM records, along with 40,000 33 1/3rd RPM records. About 30,000 45 RPM singles are at the store as well.

Enjoy the Day Exploring Alamo Records & Sheet Music

Photo: Paul Ehrlich

These records aren’t all sorted out and labeled – this isn’t a chain store. But if you dig, you can find all sorts of recordings. Will believes that Alamo Records & Sheet Music has the most records south of Dallas in Texas.

They aren’t all from one time period either. Some of the records came from the Old Victrola period, while others are big bands from the 40s. He has plenty of records from the 1950s to the 1980s too.

Enjoy the Day Exploring Alamo Records & Sheet Music

Photo: Paul Ehrlich

As for sheet music, Will has a lot of that. There are about 15,000 pieces of sheet music in his collection. Most of it is in storage because there isn’t much demand for sheet music right now. The Internet has destroyed that business. However, you can see some examples he keeps around. The covers were an art form themselves, especially in the 1920s-1940s.

The store also has about 2,000 CDs for sale. Nice to know there are no hard feelings.

Enjoy the Day Exploring Alamo Records & Sheet Music

Photo: Paul Ehrlich

Comic books and old postcards are also available for purchase. Will enjoys art, and bright colors are nearly everywhere you look at Alamo Records & Sheet Music. Will helps support a local artist by buying his work, and you can see it all over the walls of the store. There is nothing sedate about the place!

Enjoy the Day Exploring Alamo Records & Sheet Music

Photo: Paul Ehrlich

Alamo Records & Sheet Music is at 125 Broadway in San Antonio in the Antique Mall. If you want to go through the collection, you’ll need to go down there. Will doesn’t sell online, and he never sells at shows. He says, “I’m not trying to get rich. I’m just trying to get by.” He refers to his collection as his IRA and 401K.

Unfortunately, Alamo Records & Sheet Music has abbreviated hours due to COVID. Currently, they are open from 12-4 Sunday – Thursday and 11-5 Friday – Saturday. You may want to call before you go, especially if you’re coming from out of town. The phone number is 210-540-1267.

So, stop on by and dig through more than 550 boxes of LPs for that perfect record. Make sure to say “Hi” to Will for us!