Charlemagne Record Exchange

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Charlemagne Records in January 2009

Charlemagne Record Exchange is a used record store in the Five Points South neighborhood of Birmingham. Located at 1924½ 11th Avenue South, Charlemagne is owned by siblings Marian McKay Rosato and Mike McCay.

Jimmy Griffin, a fixture in the store and a Charlemagne corporate officer, is locally known for his encyclopedic knowledge of recorded music.


Charlemagne was founded by the McKay siblings and Gary Bourgeois in the summer of 1977, renting space at the Garages on 10th Terrace South. The business was envisioned not only as a used record shop, but as a place to freely exchange recordings. The atmosphere was inspired by Rasputin Records in Berkeley, California and an informally-run dress shop in the shadow of Notre-Dame in Paris. The name came from Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne", which was playing while the three discussed the new venture.

The three partners originally allowed themselves $30 a week salary, but the business was successful and soon allowed each of them to take home $100 a week. Before long the shop moved to its present upstairs location on 11th Avenue South. Record trades now only account for a tenth of Charlemagne's business as sales of new and collectible rock, jazz and blues LPs, CDs, cassettes and DVDs have taken front stage.

Bourgeois left Charlemagne in 2001 to teach English at Miles College. After two years he returned to the record business with Renaissance Records a block away.


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