Magic Platter

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Magic Platter logo.jpg

Magic Platter was an independent music store owned by Don VanCleave and located in a 1,500 space in the Centre at Riverchase shopping center at 1694 Montgomery Highway in Hoover from 1987 to 2001.

VanCleave had a second 2,000 square foot location on Montevallo Road, but closed it in 1997 due to high rent. The store's main niche was in alternative and indie rock, a market that VanCleave helped to cultivate, and which was expanded with WRAX-FM's transmitter boost in 1998. Local acts were given display space on a consignment basis. The store briefly served as an outlet for Ticketlink, but dropped the affiliation due to the preponderance of non-music events.

Originally the store carried only compact discs, but later expanded to include vinyl and some merchandise like T-shirts, stickers and music accessories. Over time the store phased out classical music, but expanded its jazz offerings with a dedicated listening room. In 1998, inspired by Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas, the store re-organized all of its 14,000 titles alphabetically by artist, with color-coded tags indicating genre. The changeover saved staff time and was credited with increasing sales. The "Platter Chatter" newsletter was mailed to 8,000 subscribers.

Magic Platter was one of the first stores to join the Coalition of Independent Music Stores, of which VanCleave was president. The shop was honored as "Small Retailer of the Year" by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers in back-to-back years (1998 and 1999).

Magic Platter staff included manager Rusty Wilkes, music buyer Rob La Roche, and jazz buyer Pete Williams.

In addition to hiring a knowledgeable staff and keeping abreast of the local market's demands, Magic Platter promoted numerous up-and-coming acts in the Birmingham market. In addition to frequent in-store signing, the shop hosted a series of in-store concerts before capacity crowds of 150-200 people. These were usually scheduled in the afternoons to attract high-schoolers who couldn't get into clubs.

Notable in-store concerts

  • Dave Matthews Band, 1995
  • Jimmie Vaughan, 1996
  • Storyville, 1996
  • Sister Hazel, 1997
  • Matchbox Twenty, 1997
  • Creed
  • Incubus
  • Leftover Salmon
  • Moe
  • No Doubt
  • Semisonic
  • Smashing Pumpkins
  • The Smithereens
  • Matthew Sweet
  • Train
  • Verbena