(photo by Tom Campagnoli)
On July 11, 1981, Plan 9 Records opened for business at 2901 W. Cary Street in Richmond's Carytown neighborhood, backed by $1,200 in tax refund money and stocked with the consigned records of the owners and their friends.
It's rare for an independent record store to stay in business for 40 years. And a few things have changed in their industry since then: the death and rebirth of the LP; the birth and death of the CD; the birth, death and rebirth of the cassette; competition from national and international mega-retailers; the rise and fall of Napster and file-sharing; the digital music revolution and the rise of streaming services.
Somehow Plan 9 has survived it all, not to mention a few recessions including a doozy in 2008, more store moves than you can count, expansion and contraction, even a bankruptcy filing. 40 years later, Plan 9 is still Richmond's premier indie record store and in many ways it's just like the store it was when it first opened.
I speak from experience on this last point, since I was one of Plan 9's early customers. I stumbled across the store in about September of 1981, and if I hadn't found it I probably would have moved out of Richmond and never returned. Plan 9 introduced me to Richmond's independent music community, which back then was pretty far underground but nowadays has moved from the basement to the penthouse of Richmond's cultural scene, thanks in no small part to the persistence of Plan 9.
This week on Global A Go-Go (Monday July 12, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards on the wrir.org
archive player, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site
), I'm going to play some of the international recordings I bought at Plan 9 in their first three years of business. These were the albums that set me on the path I'm on today; these are the records that invented the idea of Global A Go-Go.
And I'll be joined in Studio A by Plan 9's co-founder and owner Jim Bland (on the left in the photo above; on the right is co-founder Pedie Kurzman). In between musical selections, Jim and I will talk about Plan 9 and the Richmond music community then and now, why Plan 9 was selling African, Caribbean and Latin records way back then, and why the directive "Bathe" used to be posted over the front door, among other things. We're going to have a great time and I think you will too if you tune in.