When customers walk into Papa Jazz Record Shoppe, the first thing they will likely notice is that the only sound among the rows of records and CDs is music spilling from overhead speakers. Music is the atmosphere, product and passion.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Papa Jazz, which is currently in its 41st year of operation, has remained open. After making an appointment over the phone or through the store’s website, customers are able to browse Papa Jazz’s expansive inventory.
The store offers one of the largest selections of new and used records in the Southeast. Papa Jazz direct sales coordinator Alex McCollum said the staff usually keeps the number of records in stock between 50,000 to 100,000 at any given time.
CDs, videotapes, DVDs and several other items fill the store, all arranged neatly within the cozy brick building.
“I feel like just the sheer size of their collection keeps me coming back,” said Kaitlyn Dirr, a second-year biological sciences student and repeat Papa Jazz customer. “Every time I visit I find something new that I didn't see before. I just think they have something for just about everybody.”
The size of its collection isn’t the only thing that sets Papa Jazz apart from other music stores. Within its varied selection of musical artists, one can find numerous albums released by local musicians. Some of these groups were among the over 50 local bands that have performed live at Papa Jazz during a series of small concerts called Papa Jazz Sessions that were posted online for the community to watch and interact with. These concerts worked to showcase local artists and to connect music lovers from the surrounding community.
McCollum, who is half of the local music duo Stagbriar and also plays in the group Dear Blanca, said he believes Papa Jazz's generous consignment program is truly unique.
If a local musical group asks for Papa Jazz to stock its records, the store will add 99 cents to the group's asking price. This 99 cents is the only profit the store will make on the sale of each record. The rest of the proceeds go directly to the artist.
"There's no other place probably in the world that gives a consignment deal like that," McCollum said.
Even without its involvement with local artists, Papa Jazz is deeply rooted in Columbia’s history and culture. Assistant manager Woody Jones, who is referred to on the store’s Instagram page as the “resident knowledge hoarder,” said current owner Tim Smith has worked at Papa Jazz since he was 18 and has been the owner since the early '80s. The store has remained in its location on Greene Street for almost the entirety of its existence.
According to Jones, Five Points has been a "hub" for shopping and entertainment for decades, particularly among college students, but music lovers from all backgrounds are drawn to Papa Jazz's friendly clientele and laid-back atmosphere.
"You see a good mixture of both old and new customers," Jones said. "All ages ... all kinds of men and women. Everybody collects records, so it's a really wide range."
Although Papa Jazz has been bringing the community together for years through events such as Record Store Day and Papa Jazz Sessions, its role in the community has only become more important with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You know, I think with everything going on right now, music is really just one of those comforts that's keeping everyone connected,” Dirr said. "Going to your local record store to get some new music or to buy that nostalgic movie is a way to get out and talk to people, get a sense of normalcy and kind of mix up your routine."
To keep customers and staff safe, Papa Jazz requires all customers to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer before entering the store. Pick-ups, trade-ins and drop-offs are done outside of the store. Visit and tune in at Papa Jazz Record Shoppe today at 2014 Greene St.