Chris Beachley, who owns and operates The Wax Museum on Monroe Road in east Charlotte, also hosts a radio show devoted to beach music and is a member of the Carolina Beach Music Awards Hall of Fame. (Photo: Glenn H. Burkins for Qcitymetro.com)
In this age of smart phones, iTunes and satellite radio, who has need (or desire) for vinyl records?
Apparently, lots of folks –and each one means potential business for Chris Beachley, who owns and operates The Wax Museum on Monroe Road in east Charlotte.
If you’re looking for an old record, chances are good that Beachley might have it. He estimates that his store has more than 200,000, mainly 45s and 78s, some dating back to the 1930s.
Records are crammed into every corner — in cardboard boxes, in wooden display cases and inside metal cases stacked several rows high.
Looking for a cassette tape or even an 8-track? He has those, too. But mainly he has records, and thus the name The Wax Museum.
“I’ve got kids coming in here 16 to 25 who are buying records like crazy,” he said. “They think it’s cool. They like the cover art and laying a platter on and putting a needle on it as opposed to sticking something in a slot.”
Then there’s the Internet business. Beachley said he sells records to music lovers and collectors as far away as Japan, France, Australia, Germany and Argentina.
One record – a hard-to-find soul group out of Atlanta named “The Combinations” on Kimtone Records – went for $4,000. Beachley said he sold it on eBay.
Music has long been a part of Beachley’s life (he hosts a radio show devoted to beach music and is a member of the Carolina Beach Music Awards Hall of Fame), but it wasn’t until about 40 years ago that he began selling old records. He quit work as an electrical designer and borrowed $700 to start his own business. He spent $500 of that amount to buy a collection of 78s from a jukebox collector in Lexington.
His first store, he said, was in back of his father’s engineering shop. He later moved to locations on Elizabeth Avenue, East Boulevard and finally, about seven years ago, to Monroe Road.
At his current location, every inch of space is a monument to music – R&B, country, rock, folk, beach, funk, soul, blues, psychedelic, classic and jazz. Along the top of his walls is a timeline to American music, starting in the 1950s with names like Elvis Presley and Johnny Mathis ending with more modern stars such as Michael Jackson.
Beachley’s brain is like a treasure trove of music trivia. He points to a mounted cover of Etta James’ debut Album “At Last” (1960). “The greatest R&B ballad of all times,” he said.
Beachley said one of the fastest-growing parts of his business is converting the contents of videotapes, VHS cassettes, film and other outdated media onto DVDs. He also caries a small selection of machines to play those outdated media.
As for the constant evolution of technology, Beachley says he’s unconcerned. He believes there will always be people who appreciate the classics.
Adventures in the Qcity is a series that spotlights local destinations and is sponsored by the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). Learn about other destinations on our special page.
“For the most part, everybody who walks in here are buying for themselves,” he said. “You’ve got collectors out there that have got more money than you could realize.”
GETTING THERE: The Wax Museum is at 5419 Monroe Rd. From the uptown Transit Center, take CATS bus 27 from Bay I. Get off at the corner of Monroe Road and Sharon Amity Road. (The trip should take about 20 minutes.) Walk east for about three minutes along Monroe Road. The Wax Museum is just across the street from Sharon Memorial Park.