‘Museum of music’: Amoeba Music celebrates 30 years

Photo of Amoeba Music
Gisselle Reyes/Staff
Amoeba Music is the world’s largest independent record store, but it also sells a wide range of films on DVD and Blu-ray, according to the company's website.

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From the likes of AC/DC to Grimes to BTS, customers can find every type of artist at Amoeba Music, a fixture on Telegraph Avenue that celebrated its 30th birthday Tuesday.

The record retail company’s Berkeley location, which features a bright rainbow arch over its storefront, was where it all began, according to its website. Amoeba Music has since expanded to locations in San Francisco and Hollywood.

According to the company’s website, Amoeba Music is the world’s largest independent record store, but it also sells a wide range of films on DVD and Blu-ray, and before the COVID-19 pandemic it hosted live music performances.

“Amoeba is kind of a museum of music,” said Marc Weinstein, co-owner and co-founder of the company. “It’s a place completely devoted to our love and everybody’s love of music, musicians and records. We think it’s a great place to go celebrate music; (it’s) unlike any other place out there.”

Weinstein said the company closed the store for about eight months earlier this year when the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading in the United States. According to the company’s website, it reopened its Berkeley and San Francisco locations in October and September, respectively.

Since the reopening, according to Weinstein, the store has undergone the “deepest cleaning” and installed COVID-19 safety measures such as plexiglass shields. It also offers masks and gloves and has hand sanitizer placed throughout the store.

Weinstein added that business has been good since the reopening, saying that the store has experienced more sales in four days than it did last year within seven days. According to him, customers are excited about the fact that the business has remained open for three decades.

“The fact that we’re still there is, in itself, something a lot of people who love records celebrate,” Weinstein said. “We have so many records, and we have the most between our three stores. We’re kind of the great destination for records in California.”

Customers have expressed support for the company on social media in celebration of its 30th anniversary, noting their memories of visits at the store.

Throughout the decades Amoeba has been open in Berkeley, Weinstein said he has seen Telegraph Avenue change over time, from community-serving businesses such as drugstores and general merchandise stores to restaurants.

He added that he feels as if Telegraph Avenue has become more occupied with a focus on UC Berkeley’s needs rather than those of the community.

Despite these changes in business demographics, Weinstein said Amoeba’s clientele has consisted of a diverse mix of people of different ages and “all stripes,” a combination of students and residents.

As for those who are looking to support Amoeba, Weinstein said people can just visit the store.

“Come by, visit and see why we’ve been open for 30 years,” Weinstein said. “We’re a world-class destination for records, and there’s a lot of stuff to look at that’s historical and a lot of stuff that’s current from all different genres. There’s actually something for everybody to look at.”

Contact Natalie Lu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @natalie_c_lu.