“We should call it the house of obsolete media,” jokes Andy Folio, the owner of Fantasyland Records, in reference to his shop’s expansive collection of vinyl albums, 45s, CDs, DVDs and more.
A Buckhead institution since 1976, the city’s second oldest independent record store opened in an old strip center in Garden Hills before moving to its current location on Pharr Road in 2010. “Our rent was $250 a month when we first opened. That’s about what our power bill is now,” says Folio.
A transplant from Greenville, South Carolina, the 74-year-old Brookhaven resident moved to Atlanta with no job, no money and no car, and rented a room in Midtown for $13 a week. After working at a local copy store for five years, he saved up enough to open his own business. It started as a small comic bookstore, but one day he brought in a box of records that he had lying around at home and sold them for $3 apiece. “Everyone went straight to them,” says Folio, “and I thought, I’m in the wrong business.”
Vinyl is making a comeback. How many records do you have in stock?
More than 50,000. Vinyl accounts for about 90% of our sales. A lot of current artists are doing vinyl now. Your manager, Mark Gunter, has been with you for more than 35 years.
You two must have some stories to tell. Who are some of the celebrities who’ve visited the store?
Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes is a regular. So is Ed Roland of Collective Soul. Some of the others include Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, Eric Clapton and Peter Buck from REM. Michael Jackson came in one day in 1988 or 1989 with Emmanuel Lewis. He arrived in a big white limo and spent about $1,000. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there that day.
What’s the most expensive record you’ve ever sold?
We sold a Beatles “butcher cover” album called The Beatles Yesterday and Today for $2,300. The first batch of the record had the band members on the cover wearing butcher smocks and holding [raw slabs of meat and decapitated dolls], and some people thought it was offensive, so the record label withdrew it from sales.
What kind of music do you like to listen to at home?
I don’t own a record player and don’t really ever listen to music at home. I listen to it in the store all day, so I’m inundated by it.
What’s your favorite album of all time?
One of my favorites is Modern Times by Bob Dylan. I’ve read about 50 books on him.
Is reading a pastime of yours?
Yes. I read magazines mostly. I like The New Yorker. I like Stephen King books a lot, too. And I’ve read every book Ayn Rand has ever written.
What else do you do in your free time?
I like to bowl. A friend and I go on Sunday afternoons every two or three weeks and play four games at Funtime Bowl on Buford Highway. With shoes and everything, it costs us about $10 each. I also take basketball lessons twice a week at Peachtree Presbyterian Church. Mike Cavanagh has been coaching me for 20 years now. I typically shoot about 100 three-pointers, 100 free throws and 50 layups.
What are your go-to places in Buckhead?
I like Henri’s. And the Landmark Diner on Roswell Road.
Name something on your bucket list.
I’d like to travel. I haven’t been outside of the U.S. but once or twice. I’d love to see the Pyramids.
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