On the side of a nondescript strip mall at the corner of Ferguson and Gus Thomasson sits a record shop with the trademark lips and tongue logo of a life-size Rolling Stones sticker affixed to the outside window — a very clear indication that you are about to enter into a state of pure rock and roll.
So, with this mentality, it’s a bit of a surprise when you walk into the front door and come face to face with the Three Stooges in golf gear, smiling silly smiles.
It’s not until your eyes adjust to the dark room that you can properly take in the full spectrum of the store; you have no idea where to look first.
Every inch of Ron Ross’s Hit Records is covered in old Rolling Stone magazine covers and movie montages of all things Three Stooges, as well as horror movie memorabilia and hard rock music album covers.
A rock-and-roll pinball machine sits to the right of the entrance. The walls are lined with photos of famous rockers including Stevie Nicks and Keith Richards, taken by Ross when he was a concert photographer for Buddy magazine, Warner Bros, Colombia, Capital Records and many others.
Nooks and crannies are stuffed with Chucky dolls holding knives. Glass cases are chock-full of things like New York Dolls pins, a pair of Chuck Taylors signed by Marky Ramone, and hundreds of baseball cards featuring Mickey Mantle and Lou Gehrig.
As the owner, Ross has integrated the things he loves most into what he calls “historical nostalgia”.
“I went to college for five years, and got a degree in business. I got out of college, and came straight here. I came back to work at a record shop,” Ross says as he walks around the store in pants covered with Aerosmith logos. “Now everything in this store is part of my personality.”
Since 1975, when Ross was an employee of Hit Records, rock bands such as The Ramones, AC/DC and, most recently, Aerosmith have come through his doors.
“All these bands come in here to shop, not to play. I sell stuff you can’t get at Walmart.”
Ross says he has a 37-year-old friendship with Aerosmith, which explains a room off to the side plastered with the mug of Liv Tyler, daughter of Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler.
Around back are massive murals of the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith.
“Look, to this day, you can still go see the Rolling Stones perform with the original lineup. You can’t say that about many bands besides Aerosmith,” Ross says in a tone that resembles the sentiment ”duh”.
And why does he have so much Three Stooges memorabilia?
“Because The Three Stooges are timeless,” Ross says. “They are the kings of slapstick, and people of all ages, including kids, still know who they are today.”
And why are there so many horror movie items for sale?
“Because Halloween is for everyone. People have the most fun during Halloween. Everyone loves it.”
And the baseball memorabilia?
“It’s timeless. It’s the American pastime. People love baseball cards. And I do, too.”
Customers seek out his store to buy items they’ve never seen before and have to have, which is how Ross has sustained himself in an economy of digital downloads. Although the shop no longer sells vinyl LPs, customers come in to buy non-mainstream music.
“People will spend their last dollar to buy a record. If you’re having a bad day, can’t pay your bills, got in a fight with your girlfriend or boyfriend, and the right song comes on, it changes your whole attitude.” Ross says. “It does mine, at least.”
Ross loves when people come into the store and try to stump him with music trivia.
“I used to have a bumper sticker on the cash register that read, ‘Without music, life would be a mistake,’ ” Ross says. “That’s why I’m here seven days a week.”
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