Joy Record Company

Exeter Deconstructed: The school we love in detail

February 6, 2019
Assortment of vinyl records

“SAVE ON RECORDS,” the headline of the small, single-column advertisement says. “Singles just 80¢, Albums always $1 or more off!”

The ad, in the Oct. 22, 1958 edition of The Exonian, encourages interested parties to contact Joy Record Co., c/o Bill Buster in Peabody Hall.

Thus, a cottage industry was born, one that blossomed into a thriving enterprise at various campus locations for a decade, delighting music-loving Exonians, irritating local record stores, and ultimately fading from the scene after the store’s proceeds were pilfered in an Academy whodunit.

Buster, a new lower from Kentucky, bought newspaper ads throughout that first year to promote Joy Records — “For Only 85¢, WE WILL SEND A 45 TO YOUR GIRL!” declares one. He moved the store to his Wheelwright Hall room for his upper and senior years.

When Buster graduated in 1961, he sold the retail operation to three rising seniors. They expanded by renting two rooms above the Exeter Bookstore. Buster continued to supply the store’s inventory, even as the business changed hands through the years. By 1967, the store boasted a total of 600 45s and LPs. “Large numbers of folk and blues records were for sale Saturday. West Coast rock, hit parade, and soul sounds were also on hand,” The Exonian reported in a story about the store’s reopening for the new term.

Then came the break-in. A front-page headline in the Feb. 1, 1969, edition of The Exonian blared “Joy Boys Robbed; Authorities Remain Stymied.” The perp had emptied the cash box, swiping what was reported to be $50.

Michael Darby ’69, one of the store’s last owners, assured an Exonian reporter, “There is no reason to worry about the future of Joy. We will survive without any difficulties.”

But The Exonian archives include no further mention of Joy Record Company.