A music store is open for business in downtown Delaware. It's almost like old times, if the period from Nov. 1, 1980 to June 1997 can be called "old times."

A music store is open for business in downtown Delaware. It's almost like old times, if the period from Nov. 1, 1980 to June 1997 can be called "old times."

Yes, Pat Bailey is back. He's on the east side of Sandusky now, not the west, and the name of his store does not include his own name. Not this time around.

Endangered Species the last record store on earth, at 24 N. Sandusky St., has compact discs, tapes and plenty of vinyl used records, re-pressings of old favorites, and brand-new albums, released in both vinyl and CD "like it always should have been," Bailey said.

"And I sell" - he dropped his voice several octaves for emphasis - "a lot of these."

He meant spanking new records, but he might have meant any vinyl merchandise.

"If anything, record stores are more necessary now than they were back in the day," he said. "Records for me in the past five or six years are about 50 percent of my business."

And his inventory is both vast and deep. He carries the mainstream music of many decades - much of it from collections whose owners are downsizing - and "a deep, deep catalog going back to the '20s."

Also in his racks and bins are such intriguing categories as "Lost Socks," summarized by Bailey as "little acts that really didn't make it. They might have had one hit." But they still have their fans, Bailey added.

Next to the sock bin is a collection of "Why nots indeed!" more unusual and one-of-a-kind albums. And in another part of the store, "Interesting Old Socks," such as Burt Bacharach and Barry Sadler ("The Ballad of the Green Berets").

Both longtime and rookie collectors are among his customers, Bailey said.

Record collectors' shopping habits differ from those of CD buyers, he said. Record people buy "in a gulp;" some collectors buy "20, 30, 40 records at a time," while CD players tend to stop at one or two.

Young people also are buying records, said Bailey - for the tactile experience of having something they can put their hands on, something with pictures and notes they can read. Young people, Bailey said, are realizing that when they buy just music "they really have nothing. So I'm meeting that need."

And for customers who are drawn to records but who don't own the means to play them, Bailey has that, too.

"We sell classic and brand-new stereo equipment," he said: turntables, CD players, DVD players, receivers, speakers and cassette players.

"There's nothing wrong with cassettes," he said, adding that nothing's wrong with VHS equipment either, for people who have stacks of videos and still enjoy watching them.

"We're trying to serve the people who like these things," he said.

He digressed for a moment, to recall that when his own CD player broke this summer, he couldn't find another. Stores that sell compact discs don't sell the wherewithal to play them, Bailey said.

At this point a customer spoke up. He's annoyed by that very thing, the customer said. He sets up for a band, and what he wants is a simple, one-trick CD player, so he can play music between sets. But he can't find one that doesn't require a television to program it.

He's trying to change that, Bailey said.

"Please freakin' do," the customer said.

Music, deep as it goes, doesn't constitute all of Bailey's merchandise. He also sells books - not music books, reading books, books he picks up from those downsizing people.

"Because I love books; I'm a voracious reader," he said.

Leaving the books, Bailey walked to the back third of the long building to point out an area under a large skylight. Although it's cluttered now with boxes of records and posters and books and what-have-you, the space soon will become a performance area, with seating for smallish audiences and a stage for acoustic performances. His first such performance is already booked the local trio the Rusty Strings will play a Christmas-themed show at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18. The performance will be free, Bailey said, because it's intended as a showcase for the space. Later, he plans to bring in more acts.

Back up front again, Bailey, who has already played both sides of the Jazz Crusaders' 1966 "Talk That Talk," puts The Temptations on the turntable.

He has a theory about the American obesity problem, Bailey said.

He thinks that Americans started gaining weight in the mid-1990s because that's when they no longer had to get up every 20 minutes to turn the record over.

"And look at me!" he said. He held up his arms and turned sideways, the better to show off his flat abs. "Because I get up every 20 minutes and turn the record over."

Endangered Species is open - for now - from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday.

"New longer hours begin Thanksgiving Friday!" according to a note on the door.

For more information about Endangered Species, call (740) 417-4776.