3 Million Records and Florida Audio Expo Day 2

Bananas Music is a 3 million records record store plus it sells used audio gear. It's located right across the bay from Tampa so morning two of the Florida Audio Expo began with a pilgrimage to Bananas Music.

Bananas Music consists of 3 buildings: a two story record warehouse, an across the street building both located "off the beaten path" where you can buy and sell used audio gear, plus it's also filled with records, and a spacious, attractive retail operation in a shopping area where there's a big selection of new and used LPs plus new turntables and other audio gear.

All three locations are overwhelming, so packed with records one can easily become disoriented! If you visit, bring a list of wants. In 1977 Doug and Michelle Allen founded Bananas as a book store. Within a few years it was all records and no books. The 6500 foot two story warehouse located at 2226 16th Avenue you'll see in the video is said to be the largest record store in The United States.

Bananas was a "must visit" location so first thing Saturday morning I Ubered over there with Part Time Audiophile's Eric Franklin Shook, who kindly volunteered to be the cinematographer. It was well worth the visit though there was no time to really do serious record shopping.

Then it was back to the Florida Audio Expo, a 100% successful show debut that smartly didn't charge admission for its first year and kept it simple: no seminars or special events and no "marketplace". That can come later. For now, everyone involved should be more than satisfied with the show. Attendance Friday was very good. Saturday was packed. I left early Sunday but others who covered the show on Sunday said it was well-attended.

The video covers many of the rooms missed day one and concludes with excerpts from one of my hour plus "D.J." stints in the large The Audio Company (of Atlanta, Georgia) room if course minus the music to avoid copyright claim issues. It was fun playing to mostly "packed houses" and entertaining people with stories and great sounding records and files from digital.

For detailed show coverage visit the Stereophile website and read Jason Victor Serinus's detailed room-by-room coverage. This video has better audio than Day 1's coverage but is still problematic in places. Needless to say, this failed experiment in gimbal-video will not be repeated. However, despite the sonic issues you'll enjoy the visit to Bananas Music and the show coverage that follows.

Ortofan's picture

... getting a a security warning.

"The owner of bananasrecords.com has configured their website improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Firefox has not connected to this website.
bananasrecords.com uses an invalid security certificate. The certificate expired on Thursday, December 06, 2018 6:02 PM"

AnalogJ's picture

...And they're working on it.They say that about 70,000 of their stock is online.

Ortofan's picture

... the search function isn't very useful.
Can't search on just the artist's name or on a partial title.

volvic's picture

It's funny saying how no one wanted those classical records. Pity, I don't live close, would have been a regular customer. Then again people of my age who listen to classical music are a dying breed. Must make a trip down there one of these days.

Michael Fremer's picture
Old people seem to continue being "born" from young people who become old! As they mature so do their tastes in food, alcohol and music. Not to worry!
volvic's picture

And hope this is the case, I do remember JA saying to me that he goes to the NY Phil concerts and is saddened to see that he is the youngest in attendance, and when I hear about symphony orchestra's financial straits or a classical CD is considered commercially successful if it sells 10,000 CD's, I stop and wonder. I can only say that I kept the faith in the 80's and continued buying classical vinyl at a young age and scored big during the lean years when retail stores were selling DG, Philips and London recordings sealed for ..99 cents and box sets for $1.99. I consider myself lucky to have learned about Beethoven's Missa Solemnis when I was younger and appreciate the numerous versions I now own. I was only able to do this because I got bored with pop music in the early 80's and gravitated to classical and opera at a young age. I am now working on my five year old, so he can start enjoying vinyl and classical on one of our three turntables (with a fourth on the way soon). I believe if it wasn't for this music I probably would not have become a vinyl audiophile, as when it is done right a good turntable makes this music shine and come alive. CD's failed in the 80's and early 90's so continued with vinyl. However, now considering dabbling with SACD's as well. I just hope the young continue exploring and discovering how beautiful and transformative this music can be when properly reproduced. Good video thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

Michael Fremer's picture
Reading your comment!
volvic's picture

We all appreciate what you've done for our favorite format during the years and for helping out with advice when we needed it.

Jim Tavegia's picture

It is more telling of American society today as we have become spectators vs. participants...no readers and now listeners and watchers. Audiobooks rule the day, but as Steely Dan said, Everything Must Go. How can it be so lost as to not what to learn to play an instrument, sing, or even try. I am happy for their success as they quickly spotted the trend and went for it.

OldschoolE's picture

I wish I could travel and visit that record campus, empire, whatever it is. I think it may need it's own zip code. Can you imagine taking a census in that place?!
Even with a list, if I found myself in that place I'd have to be reported missing.The question is not what DO they have there, but what DON'T they have there.
That gear warehouse, what there is of it in the video is overwhelming with goodness. It is like seeing the origin and foundation of today's high-end gear. In fact, there are a few pieces in there that could put a real challenge to the $10k amps and more of today! Example: Sansui 8080db.
Yes, the turntables of old, even though one can't swap arms or what have you, are built like tanks so to speak, tough as nails. At the same time, they can take more carts than one might first think and aside from the Technics, those Pioneer direct drive tables are timeless and deadly accurate. I myself am fortunate to have picked up a Pioneer PL510A a few years back at a swapmeet for a song. It is in very good condition and I can attest that speed is spot on and stays that way (I test with real meters and such).
What that man is doing for folks just getting into the hobby or scene is enough to nominate him for the nobel prize as far as I am concerned!
As for the records, I can't even start. The $2 to $3 section alone would keep me busy for a week solid. I don't truly know the condition of those records, but I have pulled $2 records that should have been $10+.
Some of their classical record prices seem a bit on the steep side when considering the desire for more interest. On my coastal end, I find tons of $2 and $3 classical records in near pristine condition and that includes box sets, even good pressings from Germany, England, etc. I have always appreciate classical music myself, but rarely ever bought any. I was too into the rock music in vinyl's first heyday, but with the resurgence and used market being what it is, I have gone hog wild in purchasing classical vinyl records. Can't beat them for the money! (It has gotten to the point for me though that I now have almost too many classical records). I think finding classical records under $10 is a fantastic way to gain interest from the younger folk who are into vinyl and analog. One reason, is the condition vs cost ratio. a simple clean of most classical records (which by the way have either been well cared for or never played) and a spin on the table shows them just how good vinyl really is! It gets them hooked hearing a near perfect record even if they are not interested in the genre!
On the other side of the coin, there are a lot worse things to spend $10 on.Given the choice I would spend the $10 on a record.

Mikey, what happened with your other Panasonic camera and a shotgun mic? That was far better than using a phone.

Michael Fremer's picture
Still have and will use. This was an experiment in getting a smoother moving picture because of "seasick" complaints! Unfortunately the audio suffered so it will be back to the "old school" until someone solves the audio issues with using the phone (which I do like for a number of reasons)...
Chemguy's picture

I was there in Sept. 2018 and was so impressed with the cataloguing and collection. Picked up a couple of treasures: promo copy of Nuggets and the Mofi Katy Lied. Very happy. They’re a superb store. Had a very nice chat with the owner...Dave, I think...who was so very nice.

Will be back in Florida this year, again, and will be going again. With a list, as Michael says...if you don’t you’ll be overwhelmed!

harry99's picture

Would you please be kind enough to contact. Harry Nikander, Helsinki, Finland. harry.nikander@kolumbus.fi
I like to discuss and ask a few questions on Steely Dan 1997 (I guess must testpressing Mofi). Would be so nice. Best rgds from sunny Helsinki. Harry

AnalogJ's picture

I'd love to get to that area. It's in St. Pete. I never get to the Northwest side of the state. Someday.

I spoke with Michelle, the co-owner. We chatted for a while and I purchased one of their T-shirts to show support.

samman's picture

What is it with this "can't play a portion of music due to the copyright police coming after me?" Really? Are you saying that some lawyer is going to appear out of nowhere to sue someone because they actually played a small portion of recorded music? Something that, in my opinion, actually promotes the musician? What the hell. It is so frustrating to be on an "audio" site and not actually hear the damn record! Sorry to bitch Mike, I know you have your reasons.

Michael Fremer's picture
Is correct but it's what happens. Some videos get shut down. Some can't be played overseas. Even this one, which has minimal snippets of music had a copyright claim against it! So what that often means is that the claimant can take over monetization of the video unless I go through hoops to object. Since I don't own the site it's not a big deal to me and since the site's owners (AVTech) are currently not concerned about monitizing the videos, it's not a big issue but were I to play who tracks on YouTube, depending on the music and the lawyers, it could be shut down or blocked in some areas of the world...
Sylvester's picture

Thank you for going to Bananas. If my wife only knew how much time and money I have spent there.
Thank you for coming to the Tampa area. It was my pleasure to meet you.
Please come back soon. I will take off work and show you around the area.