My very own hometown newspaper, The Roanoke Times, published a very nice feature on the venerable County Sales in their Sunday (8/29) edition. It was written by Tad Dickens, music reporter for the paper.
As a young student of bluegrass banjo growing up in the Tidewater region of coastal Virginia, County Sales was my lifeline to recorded music, as it was to many other fans of the music with no local outlet for retail bluegrass purchases. Seeing the postman arriving with that distinctively thin, 12” cardboard box always meant that some new music was headed for the turntable.
On top of that, County Sales’ founder Dave Freeman’s monthly newsletters offered the first notice for many of us of new releases – not to mention thumbnail reviews and some brief historical references. And it was such a treat to be able to ring them up and place an order for “the new Seldom Scene album,” and know that it would be properly filled without the need for a catalog number.
These days, of course, County Sales does most of their business online, though they still have a knowledgeable staff on site to answer questions and accept orders by phone. They also receive a large number of live-and-in-person visits from customers and interested travelers from all over the world.
Dickens begins his Times piece by describing the business’ brick-and-mortar home in the tiny community of Floyd, VA – a site with a history of its own.
The hub of a bluegrass and old-time music mini-empire thrives in a building where legendary performers played and sang decades ago.
For more than 35 years, County Sales has operated out of a rambling portion of what was once called the Pix Theater, on West Main Street in Floyd. In its day, 1935-1936, such entertainers as The Monroe Brothers (Bill and Charlie) and Roy Hall put on shows there, according to the Floyd Historical Society.
These days, you can still find recordings featuring those players, along with at least 4,500 other titles from musicians both famous and obscure. People from all over the country, even the world, can be found milling through the bins at County Sales.
The lengthy article covers the history of the company, and where County Sales is headed in the future. It will make for a very interesting read for anyone who has done business with them since the mid-1970s.
You can read the entire piece online.