If You Think Record Stores Are Dead, You Haven’t Visited Malibu…


Besides streaming, vinyl is the only recording format that is actually growing.  In 2015, year-over-year LP sales boomed 29.8 percent in the US alone, according to Nielsen Music, to 11.9 million units.  That’s part of a decade-long expansion, one that is starting to bleed into brick-n-mortal retail.

Record stores are supposed to be dead, but 2016 could the start of a serious comeback.  Just this morning, the impossible happened once again: against a picturesque backdrop, Stax of Wax cut the ribbon on a trendy, vinyl-only store in the ultra-tony Malibu beach enclave.  Malibu, situated just outside of Los Angeles, could offer the perfect blend of trendy taste and ample disposable cash to make this a long-term play.

That’s the bet being made by Stax of Wax, situated in the high-priced Malibu Country Mart, which features a selection of 900 titles spanning rock, jazz, soul, funk, hip-hop, electronica, blues, country, Americana and indie/alternative.  A number of current releases will be mixed with catalog classics, with t-shirts, books, and photography capping off the physical experience.


Stax of Wax features a simple, chic interior, though this isn’t a big space.  Accordingly, Stax will special-order certain titles, and hopefully generate continued foot traffic with knowledgeable customer service.

And, a sense of history.  The entire retail idea harkens back to Satellite Records, a small record shop in Memphis that doubled as a retail outlet for Stax Records.  Back in the 60s, that was not only a way to sell records, but also served as a cultural hub for passionate music fans and the broader Memphis community.  That vibe is obviously difficult to juxtapose into a millionaire beach villa, though a sense of music community will be key to Stax’s long-term success.

Concord Bicycle Music, which now owns the fabled Stax, played a guiding hand in the store opening.

For those checking Stax of Wax out, here are a few details.  The exact address is Malibu Country Mart, 23410 Civic Center Way, Malibu, CA 90265.  Basically, this is straight up the PCH, right next to Pepperdine University (and skip the drive with the 534 city bus!)  Store hours are 10-6, seven days a week; we’re hearing it’s packed on opening day.


18 Responses

  1. Me

    Or, you could skip going to Malibu for one record shop and check out the plethora of record shops in the Echo Park/Silver Lake area, where there are as many vinyl only stores as there are taco trucks.

    • Literally Can't Even

      OK hipster, that’s like saying mustachios aren’t dead because they are in Echo Park. It’s significant when it goes BEYOND places like that.

      • Figuratively Can't Even

        Lol, this isn’t significant at all. DMN has been reporting about the rise of record sales for a while now, and have constantly pointed to major outlets like Urban Outfitters and Barnes & Nobles as being the leading vinyl retailers. This isn’t about being a hipster, but about wondering why anyone would care about one record store in Malibu. How is that significant… unless they paid for placement here?

      • Rick Shaw

        Ouch! Did you have a bad meal in Echo Park? Get dumped there? Why the hostility? Had the comment referred to a record store in Pasadena would you have blasted away?

  2. Literally Can't Even

    Get real everybody. Vinyl really makes sense only if you’re older/stable (and not moving around), have disposable cash, are seriously image-conscious, otherwise everything that sucks about vinyl has been replaced by streaming — totally portable, higher quality, skip tracks, no physical product/enviro-destruction, list goes on. This is just as pompous as red wine, art collecting, list goes on.

    • Name2

      Get real everybody. Vinyl really makes sense only if you’re older/stable (and not moving around),

      Uh-Huh. I moved my 1966-1986 vinyl collection. Once.

      I moved my 1966-2002 vinyl collection. Once.

      One-percenters of Malibu love their vinyl. Why, exactly, is anyone else supposed to care? It delfinitely isn’t a harbinger of an industry renaissance.

      However, I would like to see YouTubes of massive, meticulously curated collections fall victim to Pacific’s eroding coastline, jsut tumblind down the dunes. LOL Bye Bye Max Martin’s life work.

      Hear DMN: Less stupid. Please be it.

  3. Roy

    Malibu? and this determines that record stores aren’t dead?

    What’s the over under on the fact that someone rich owns this store and the store generates zero profit, but they don’t care because… money is no object to this hobbyist?

    There are so many other, more important, forward thinking things to write about in the music industry. Can we try some of those? Especially if it’s going in your email blast.. please.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      The location of Malibu is an indicator that record stores may be rebounding, and vinyl (and its retail counterpart) expanding in a serious way. I’d agree with the above commenter, not to be disparaging to Echo Park or other trendy neighborhoods, but once vinyl-only style stores like these hit places like Malibu (or Westwood, or whatever), we can say there’s possibly something bigger going on. The reason is that the populations outside of first-moving, trendsetting neighborhoods are more generalized, at least in terms of product preferences and interests. Sure, Malibu isn’t representative of the rest of the country and world for obvious reasons, but it’s an expansion beyond core music communities.

      Remember, in Malibu, the choice is driven by what type of product will sell the best, just like everywhere else. But, this is less about music. If women’s lingerie is determined to sell 10 times as well, that’s the store that will probably appear. Same with the portfolio of other high-value things: pressed juices, expensive eateries, hair stylists, coffeehouses, etc. It’s more about revenue calculations, and here we have a vinyl-only store occupying a high-rent spot in a Malibu mall.

      It’s a good sign for the sector.

      • Name2

        The location of Malibu is an indicator that record stores may be rebounding

        It’s also a good indication that Barbra Streisand is moving into my building.

      • Slow News Day

        No offense Paul but this entire article reeks of regurgitated press release. Malibu represents millionaires. Millionaires with spare cash to burn on pet projects. If this store is still open in a year, then you can claim it is a good sign for the sector.

  4. FarePlay

    The secret of success for record and book stores…..

    An extraordinarily high level of product knowledge, customer interactivity and in store promotions with authors and musicians. And of course great customer service.

    Books, Inc in the SF Bay Area, established during the Gold Rush was thriving when I spent time in the East Bay a couple of years ago.

    Whether they will survive given the cultural demise of the area as a result of the digital gold rush to the Bay Area is a question I can’t answer.

    If you haven’t seen San Francisco 2.0 on HBO, it is a disturbing look at SF’s tech transformation. Not encouraging, unless you’re a coder.

  5. Paul Lanning

    Looks like they should be carrying much more stock than what they have in those skimpy little fixtures. And they should carry used LPs.

      • Paul Lanning

        The place looks sterile and empty. Framed pictures on the wall belong in an art gallery or museum. There should be PRODUCT on the walls.

  6. Jane

    I like it and am glad that DMN is giving it some publicity. Think the look of the store is great.

  7. Patrick Lockwood

    In the 70s, I recall Tower Records on the Sunset Strip, and it’s 100,000 or so vinyl inventory. The record stores today are promising, but I doubt it will ever return to it’s heyday. To those who knock vinyl, why? Some people prefer it, what’s it to you? But, for those of us to do love vinyl, the increased vinyl sales is encouraging, insofar as that it apparently is not going to die completely.