MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
One of the country’s oldest independent record stores is closing its doors for good. For more than five decades, Record Revolution has been a fixture in the music scene around Cleveland. It’s seen customer preferences changes again and again, from vinyl to cassettes, CDs, to streaming and back to vinyl again. Kabir Bhatia from member station WKSU visited Record Revolution before it’s official closing date, now set for January 7.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE BEATLES SONG, “SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND”)
KABIR BHATIA, BYLINE: It was 1967. The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” was turning listeners on and turning the music business on its ear. For almost a century, records had been sold mostly through appliance stores, drug stores and musical instrument shops. But as boomers came of age, independent stores, like Cleveland’s Record Revolution, offered a new experience, with clerks who lived and breathed the latest music. For 15 years, one of them was Rob Love, and he became a co-owner in 2004.
ROB LOVE: We were career music enthusiasts, you know what I mean? Like, I can’t think of anybody that wasn’t also a musician or also involved in music in some other aspect of their life.
BHATIA: Dusty stacks of 45s line a few shelves in the basement during Record Revolution’s big going-out-of-business sale. There’s also a bargain bin with albums by Dan Fogelberg and Barbra Streisand and one wall of new and rare LPs awaiting a new home. For years, it’s been the go-to music stop for Stacy Cohen (ph), who found the store in the 1980s.
STACY COHEN: I remember buying Madonna and Cyndi Lauper buttons and tapes and stuff like that. I remember when the “True Blue” Madonna album came out – coming here to buy that. And we were really excited about that and putting the buttons on our jean jackets.
BHATIA: Despite vinyl’s comeback over the past decade, sales at Record Revolution have still been slow. One big factor is the music industry’s shift to streaming music. Joey Deane (ph) and Ellie Montenegro (ph), both in their 20s, do download their favorite music, but they frequently spend date night vinyl hunting. They both like the experience that comes with buying records at a brick-and-mortar store.
ELLIE MONTENEGRO: It’s more personal ’cause you kind of collect them. And then you can pull them out and be like, oh, I remember we found this at wherever. Or, like, when you find a really good one, when you’ve been, like, browsing for an hour, it’s a really fun experience.
JOEY DEANE: Oh, because it’s so much better to just flip through the records and go stand by stand and talk to people that are here.
BHATIA: Rob Love says that sales have been, quote, “tremendous” since he announced last month that they’re closing.
LOVE: The bump in interest of – and the bump in foot traffic, if we could have done consistently a quarter or a third of this kind of business, you know, of course, I would keep it going. But, you know, it’s not. (Laughter) That’s not the case. You know, everybody loves you when you’re dead.
BHATIA: Love says he’ll miss his customers, and he’ll really miss the thrill of introducing people to new music. For NPR News, I’m Kabir Bhatia in Cleveland.
(SOUNDBITE OF STYLES P SONG, “OCEAN”) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.