Originally published by Akron Beacon Journal - Seyma Bayram, February 3, 2022.
Homell Calhoun Jr. cherished Sundays at his father’s record store on Wooster Avenue.
He had been shining shoes at the store since was 8, but as he got older, his father trusted him to open Calhoun Record Shop on Sunday mornings. Black pastors, churchgoers and other Akron community members would spill into the shop to get their shoes shined. They’d browse through the selection of gospel, soul, funk and blues, and talk about goings on around town.
“It was amazing because it kind of lit the whole block up,” Calhoun said of the family business. “If you really wanted to know what was happening, what was going on, that’s where you came — the record shop. … It was really the place to be. Plenty of gossip,” he laughed.
Homell Calhoun Sr. opened the shop in the late 1940s at the urging of his wife, Rebecca, who worked in record stores in Detroit and knew how to run the business. Calhoun began by repairing phonographs and soon the family was ordering inventory from Stax Records in Memphis.
The record store was the family’s main source of income, and it saw a lot of traffic.
Everything you needed — from grocery stores, tailors, bars, doctors and more — could be found on Wooster Avenue (now Vernon Odom Boulevard), a center of Black commerce in Akron.
When the ill-fated Akron Innerbelt was constructed in the 1970s, it tore through a predominantly Black neighborhood and displaced at least 737 households. The road also forced many mom-and-pop businesses to relocate. Many of the displaced businesses never recovered or reopened.