As George Harrison said, all things must pass. Particularly, record stores as we have known them are a dying business model. Exact facts and figures are tricky, but one outfit from LA called the Almighty Institute of Music Retail says that their database of "independent record stores" went from about 5000 in 1995 to around 2800 currently. Grim times to try to be anywhere near that business.
As a shopkeeper's son, I admit to a bit of nostalgia for those little mom and pop stores. As a high school senior, I sold records out of Barger's Lakeview Market, selling Kenny Rogers and Lynyrd Skynyrd discs to fund my interests in Captain Beefheart and the Residents, among others. Good times.
Now comes the news that even Rhino Westwood is closing. Richard Foos founded the store in 1973 in LA, and started the now almighty Rhino Records label in the back of the store in 1978. Thus, it may be the most famous independent record store ever.
From the LA Times:
Rhino Westwood, a Westside landmark for more than three decades, announced its closing on Thursday, news that follows the November shuttering of Aron's Records, the storied shop that sold music for 40 years (and practically invented the used-LP sales practice), first on Melrose Avenue and then Highland Avenue.
Rhino founder Richard Foos, speaking in dejected tones, said Thursday that it "had become very apparent that it was too difficult to go on." The store's lease expired and Foos opted to lock the doors. The store plans a Jan. 21 parking-lot sale that will be part wake, part fire sale.
"But we are hoping now for a white knight to show up and buy the inventory and the name and hopefully carry on the tradition," he said. "It was a very emotional decision but this is where it's at. Now in Westwood you have no free-standing record stores. You have one of the largest colleges in the country and no inde-pendent record store. That says a lot."
Folks, if Richard Foos can't keep even this landmark store running, then take it as a hint that the whole business model is doomed. The writing is on the wall.