Sally’s Place — the last record store in Westport — closed 2 years ago. It marked the end of an era, for devoted fans like Keith Richards and all the rest of us regular Joes.
Once upon a time, record stores were stacked up here like 45s on a spindle.* Sally bought her beloved store after she left Klein’s. At one point, there were not 1 but 2 Sam Goody’ses within shouting distance of each other on the Post Road, a musical version of today’s nail spas or banks.**
The Record Hunter occupied space next to Remarkable Book Shop — the now-forlorn corner of Main Street abandoned by Talbots. Jay Flaxman oversaw that store, allowing teenagers like me to hang out, discover Richie Havens and Phil Ochs, and very occasionally even buy something.
Long before my time there was Melody House. A Main Street fixture, it apparently featured “listening booths” that were quite the rage in the doo-wop days.
Overlooked in most memories is Record & Tape of Westport. Clunkily named, and a bit removed from downtown — located in Compo Shopping Center, where either Planet Pizza or the Verizon store is today — this was simply one more spot to buy (duh) records and tapes.
But it too was a great place, and a labor of love. Owner Jean Rabin presided joyfully over its narrow aisles. She knew each customer’s likes, and enjoyed recommending (in her gentle Southern accent) new artists based on those preferences. If you didn’t like something, she gave a full refund — no questions asked.
It must have been hard, running an independent record store in a town filled with others (and a couple of chains), but she never complained. She loved music, she loved the diverse group of customers who shopped there, and she loved Westport.
Though she lived in Trumbull, she spent time here even after closing her shop. This past summer, I saw her at Compo. We talked about many things — including music.
Jean Rabin died last week. She was 79 years old.
Years from now, I can’t imagine anyone writing such a fond remembrance of Pandora, Spotify or iTunes.
(Visitation is tomorrow [Thursday, October 8], 6-8 p.m. at Spear-Miller Funeral Home, 39 S. Benson Road, Fairfield. A memorial service is set for 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, at Greens Farms Congregational Church. Donations may be made in Jean’s honor to the American Heart Association or Susan G. Komen for the Cure.)
*Kids: Ask your parents.
** Clever reference: One of the stores is actually, today, Patriot Bank.