A Ville Platte, La., record store specializing in Cajun, zydeco and swamp pop music will close Saturday, Dec. 22. Floyd Soileau opened Floyd’s Record Shop in 1956. In its heyday, Soileau had more than 20 employees working his retail and wholesale business. But the digital age changed everything. Soileau plans to keep the mail-order business open.
"When Toledo Bend opened, I don’t know how many people had to bring their kids to Floyd’s Record Shop," he said. "They had heard about us on the radio, and it was close enough to visit. At that time, if you went north or south in Louisiana you went on U.S. 167, and it came right through Ville Platte.”
Soileau got his start as a Cajun music DJ on a Ville Platte AM station. He delivered newscasts in French. He went on to open a record store, and at night he recorded Cajun and zydeco bands in a warehouse behind the shop. He launched three record labels featuring regional music.
In 1974, he opened Floyd’s vinyl-pressing plant that made records and their jackets. Soileau said when Elvis died and RCA was churning out records at a frenetic pace, they found Floyd's.
“They gave us an order for 60,000 copies of an of Elvis album," he said. "We pressed it and got it out on time to their specifications. They were impressed how our little plant had handled their order. They said they wished they could have found us earlier because they could’ve given us more business.”
At age 74, Soileau isn’t slowing down much. He continues to operate an independent label for Cajun music. He owns the copyright to thousands of songs. His son is taking over his online record sales. His one regret in life: He didn’t teach his four children to speak French.