When I started collecting music in a serious capacity years ago, I focused on compilations and a more limited selection of artists (you gotta start somewhere, right?). When I began visiting Time Traveler on a regular basis, a whole new world of music was opened up to me. I gained an appreciation for vinyl, I saw the artistry of a perfectly crafted and sequenced album, and I was able to discover artists I may not have heard of otherwise, as well as obtain albums that would be fairly difficult to locate elsewhere. It’s no understatement to say that I wouldn’t be the music fan I am today or have the collection that I have now without Time Traveler.
A big inspiration for this article was my State Road Shopping Center post from a few days ago. In that one, I reminisced about the now-gone strip. Time Traveler is located right before what used to be that very shopping center. But, unlike that strip of stores, Time Traveler is still there. Too often we take for granted those places that mean a lot to us, only to realize what we had when they’re gone. With Time Traveler, I know what I’ve got, and I’m grateful they’re still there. Over the years, the store has truly meant a lot to me, so if it seems like I’m sometimes doing a bit of “rah rah!” cheerleading in this post, well, it’s because I am.
The selection is unbelievable, and there’s always new stuff coming in. It’s gotten to the point where it’s virtually impossible for me to stop in without really, really wanting something. And just when I think I’ve searched through every nook and cranny of the place, I find something new. There are a ton of DVDs, a healthy selection of cassette tapes, and even cool promotional posters for sale. But, the heart of Time Traveler is the massive assortment of CDs and vinyl records. We’re talking thousands upon thousands here, no exaggeration. If you’re used to the usually pitiful selection of music at some of our “major retailers,” then the sheer number of albums available at Time Traveler is nothing short of mind blowing. I’m not joking, there’s a lot of music.
A lot has been made of the current situation with the music industry. Digital downloads and whatnot are increasingly choking the life out of physical media, and that’s something I absolutely hate. When I buy an album, I want to have a physical copy of it. I want to look through the liner notes, and I want to admire the artwork. If there’s one thing I like about the current state of music though, it’s the fact vinyl has made a comeback of sorts. It was never really gone, but the relative resurgence of the past few years has been a pleasant surprise. To be honest though, when I want to listen to a classic album on vinyl, I really rather spin a vintage disc. Sure, it may take a bit longer to find a decent condition copy (in my experience especially where Elvis, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones are concerned, because people would play those ones over and over and over), but the search is, I think, worth it. A good clean original pressing of a vinyl, to my ears, usually sounds better than today’s remasters, and you have the benefit of listening to the exact albums that were breaking ground in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s.
Because of the vinyl resurgence, a lot of younger folks are going and picking up all of the vintage albums they can find. When I was first building up my vinyl LP collection (something I continue to do today), Time Traveler was a BIG time-saver. I’m far from the first to point out that vinyl has a warmth and depth that’s often lacking on CD, and I noticed this time and time again when I was picking up Bruce Springsteen, Beatles, even Jim Croce records, that I already had on CD. Even as far as modern vinyl releases go, they often sound better than their CD counterparts. I’ll never forget the rush of excitement when I first found Springsteen’s Magic on vinyl at Time Traveler (granted, the production of that album in general is often debated). Man, I snapped that thing right up, and since then, whenever Bruce puts out a new album, I buy the CD and vinyl release at the same at Time Traveler.
My two favorite artists of all-time are Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Presley. Oh sure, I like a lot of other artists, but those are the two I always come back to. Time Traveler has plenty of both. As far as Springsteen goes, I’ve owned most of his releases as vinyl LPs for years now, so sometimes it’s hard to find something new-to-me (though last summer I positively flipped out when I found the vinyl release of Human Touch there, in great shape, and for only 99 cents to boot!). With Elvis, it’s a bit different. There are SO many Elvis albums out there, that I’m almost constantly finding something new (and I’ve got MANY Elvis records as it is). Several weeks back, I finally found a nice vinyl copy of The Sun Sessions, and for $3, it became mine.
Speaking of prices, one thing I really admire about Time Traveler is that the prices are always very reasonable. I’ve been to dedicated record stores (and even some antique/thrift shops or even yard and garage sales) where vinyl records will be ludicrously overpriced. The Beatles and Elvis are especially susceptible to this. Because they were (and are) so popular, many people feel their records are worth a premium. Yes, they are worth a bit more due to their popularity, but some people fail to realize that they sold millions of those records, they are not scarce. Some pressings may be worth more, but as a general rule of thumb, many people want more for a given record than it’s worth. Unless it’s a sealed original pressing, I just don’t think Elvis’ G.I. Blues is worth $25! I’ve never had this problem at Time Traveler. Heck, I bought my first vinyl copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The original Beatles album, not the soundtrack to that terrible musical) there for $6, and that was an early pressing! Of course, condition of the record and cover plays a role in the pricing, but I’ve never seen an album there priced just to suck the most money out of your wallet as possible.
On the day I stopped in to take these pictures, the store had just taken in a huge collection of Beatles and Beatles-related records, many (maybe all) of them in absolutely fantastic shape. As I previously mentioned, it’s often a bit tough to find a Beatles record that hasn’t been spun 4000 times or had it’s jacket dismembered and taped to the wall of some 60’s pre-teen girl’s bedroom. Trust me, these were in amazing shape. My brother happily purchased several Beatles vinyl LPs and even John Lennon’s first solo album, and man, these things were clean.
We didn’t buy this George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music vinyl, but aside from minor wear to the jacket, it was a ridiculously nice copy.
The Beatles Rarities, a 1980 compilation of tracks that didn’t make it onto the U.S. releases of the original albums or even alternate tracks. We didn’t buy this one either, but again, this LP was in crazy good shape. Also, see my brother’s kinda-cameo in these shots. What a team player.
I’ve been talking a lot about old vinyl, but there are also new CD releases at Time Traveler. As I stated before, I buy all of Springsteen’s new releases from Time Traveler, and in fact, I buy all new releases there! Why spend my money at a chain store when I can support my local indie record store? The atmosphere is nicer, the selection is better (waaay better), and if something’s not in stock, in all likelihood it can be ordered (even more obscure titles).
The latest CD releases are up front, but all of the other new/sealed CDs are on these racks, and that pic doesn’t even get all of them in! I can, and have, spent hours browsing through these. The Michael Stanley section was invaluable to me when I was first collecting the CD discography of The Michael Stanley Band. Some of those albums are really on the tough side to find, and I remember snapping up the CD editions of Fourth And Ten and Inside Moves as soon as I found them there, years ago.
Ditto goes for The Rolling Stones: you don’t always see their 1960’s albums at major retailers, not many at least (in my experience), but several years ago when I found nearly every album they put out in the 60’s on CD, DSD remastered versions no less, I bought them as quick as I could pull the money out of my pocket. Well, maybe not that fast, but eventually I picked up most of their 1960’s catalogue from Time Traveler.
Lotsa used CDs, too. The newest ones to the shop are found up front. In my experience, if you see something especially good in those bins, it’s probably best to move on it right away. If you wait a day or two, there’s a good chance it’ll be gone. A few weeks back, the original 2-CD pressing of The Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks, the London-labeled West German pressing, found it’s way into the “just in” bin, and man, I grabbed that 2-disc set as soon as I saw it. The old Stones CDs with London labels have absolutely terrific sound, and whenever I come across them, which isn’t often unfortunately, they’re always instant-buys. Actually, to be honest, the only London-labels I’ve ever found have been at Time Traveler; that edition of Let It Bleed (quite possibly my favorite Rolling Stones album) has become an honored part of my collection.
More used CDs, a big ol’ rack of ’em.
The 99 cent CD rack is the section that keeps on giving. Numerous times I’ve dug through it, only to keep discovering more good stuff. The section has yielded me some very good 60’s rock compilations and obscure Jazz CDs. Also, look at the insert: I traded that CD in myself! Collector’s item!
There are extensive Country and Folk sections, as well. Even Blues and Classical. A few months back, I found a CD of original Al Jolson recordings that had somehow made it’s way into the Classical section. Naturally, I bought it. I told you my tastes were extensive!
See the copies of The Beach Boys 20 Golden Greats, and Bob Seger’s Night Moves and The Distance? More trade-ins from the NEO Video Hunter collection!
I’ve found some neat CDs in the Soundtracks section. Batman soundtracks, sure, but my golden triumphs? Two different pressings, neither one exactly easy to find, of the M*A*S*H soundtrack. Twas great moments, I say.
Also, Laserdiscs! The very first time I went into Time Traveler, it must have been the summer of either 2000 or 2001. I was specifically looking for Giorgio Moroder’s version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis on the format. I didn’t even have a Laserdisc player at that point, but I was (still kinda am) a collector of all things Metropolis, and at that time, both the VHS and Laserdisc releases of Giorgio Moroder’s “rock” restoration of the film were looong out-of-print ad and worth mighty dollars (it’s since been reissued on DVD, something I never thought would happen). It wouldn’t be until 2006 or 2007 that I began visiting Time Traveler regularly (by that point I was seriously collecting music), however. Haven’t looked back since.
DVDs! I’ve seen some ridiculously rare stuff show up in the new DVDs section. You can’t tell from my photo, but there’s totally some Big Chuck & Lil’ John DVDs in stock.
Plenty o’ used DVDs, and even some Blu-Rays, too. The used DVD section once yielded Tom Selleck’s Mr. Baseball, a moment that should have been heralded by trumpets and whatnot. Good find, is what I’m sayin’.
Collectible posters, and lots of ’em. Many (most? All?) of these are promotional posters sent to record stores for, er, promotion (go figure!). I bought several Bruce Springsteen-related posters there, including big ol’ full-size ones for Greatest Hits and The Ghost Of Tom Joad, as well as smaller ones for Tracks (which is on the wall only mere feet from me) and Live In New York. I’m not lying when I say not only do these all make terrific display pieces, but they are incredibly cool (though I guess those two things kinda go hand-in-hand, huh?).
Even the walls of the place are a feast for the eyes. I mean, there’s a lot of cool of stuff up there to look at. Also, this shot gives a good view of how the racks on the floor are set up: Tons of vinyl records on the left end, tons of CDs the rest of the way down, and they’re like that on both sides, every row. Eagle eyes will notice the power line-up of Pat Benatar, Jackson Browne, and Jaws in the very front row there.
On this very wall is a picture of your NEO Video Hunter himself, taken on a day when I felt like being annoying and thus I walked in dressed in full Texas oil baron regalia (see insert). That’s me with the owner of this fine establishment. That’s right, me with the man himself, and while on the subject…
Scott Shepard, hometown hero and legitimate good guy. Scott opened Time Traveler in 1991, but he’s been part of music industry for much of his life. The sheer number of legendary artists he’s seen in concert and even met is nothing short of jaw-dropping. See that photo near the upper-right corner of the pic? That’s Scott with freakin’ Ray Manzarek from The Doors!
We’ve seen the impressive selection at Time Traveler, but one of the best things about indie record stores is the people that run them. The proprietors of these fine establishments have a genuine love of music, and just by talking with them for even a few minutes, you can gain a wealth of musical knowledge. And, as they get to know you and your tastes, they can direct to the latest additions to the store. It’s an aspect of these hometown record stores that, simply put, is almost always completely absent from the big, heartless chain stores. With the indie stores, you can actually establish a rapport with the people working there. If you’re lucky, even strike up a friendship. In my case, I’m fortunate to have become very good friends with Scott. You couldn’t ask for a cooler or more knowledgeable person.
Alright, so we’ve taken a look at Time Traveler, but what about some of the cool things I’ve purchased there over the years? I’ve talked a bit about some of them, but here’s just a very small sampling of some more of my Time Traveler treasures (alliteration!):
One of my all-time favorite buys was this souvenir Beatles record. The record itself is the same as Vee-Jay’s Introducing… The Beatles, but the jacket is what makes this one special, with info and pictures that just scream “early Beatlemania!” Apparently this one was sold in stores on it’s own, but look at the sticker at the bottom of the front cover: A souvenir of their September 15, 1964 Cleveland show! This one’s not just Beatles history, it’s Northeast Ohio history!
(I actually purchased a “Version One” copy of Introducing… The Beatles at Time Traveler as well. There are a lot of fakes out there, but as far as I can tell, I think mine’s legit. I won’t say how much I paid for my copy, but let me just say, it was a fantastic deal.)
Some good ol’ 50’s Rock & Roll! Bill Haley doesn’t always get the props he deserves when people speak of 1950’s rock, but he put out some really great music.
Jerry Lee Lewis is one of my top favorites, and believe it or not, I may have purchased more vinyl records by him than any other artist at Time Traveler. Someone must have turned in their entire Killer collection, because about three years ago, all at once there were a ton of Jerry Lee vinyls, and over a fairly short period of time, I bought them all. This 2-record set isn’t from that lot, rather I picked this one up a few months ago, but like everything Jerry Lee has put out (even though this is really just a common budget collection), this one is good.
I talked about finding this album on CD at Time Traveler, and years later, I found this original vinyl, too. This was MSB’s final studio album (Michael Stanley has continued as a solo artist and also performing with his new band, The Resonators, but nothing beats The Michael Stanley Band years). This one’s opened, but in terrific shape. I find the sticker on the shrinkwrap interesting: If these were hit singles, they had to have been hits only locally. MSB’s final two albums were originally released only on a regional basis, and original vinyl and cassette copies are pretty tough to find, even around here. They’ve since been reissued on CD, but there’s something about owning the original LP.
I’m also a big Little Richard fan, but aside from compilations of his 1950’s music, many of his records are a bit tough to find. This one is a Spin-O-Rama compilation of his Gospel music, from 1960.
Scary stories as told by the man himself, Boris Karloff?! Yeah, I’ll take it!
I’m a sucker for any vintage record that attempted to get in on Beatlemania, and this one combines two legends: The Beatles and Chet Atkins! I’m incredibly glad to have added this one to my collection.
There you have it, my little tribute to my favorite music store and the only place I do any serious music shopping. Many record stores have come and gone, but Time Traveler is still there, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
Oh, and if you stop in, check out the famous Saturday Night With C album. Don’t get it? Well, that’s why you gotta stop by!
Time Traveler is located at 2615 State Road, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio 44223 and they can be reached at 330-923-4408.
UPDATE: Time Traveler is now located at 118 West Market Street in Akron, Ohio, across the street from Dave Towell Cadillac, The Diamond Grill and St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. The store hours are Monday-Saturday 10 AM – 7 PM. Phone # 330-819-8955.