As we mentioned last week in reference to Amoeba Music in the Bay Area, there will always be room for a smart, niche-oriented retailer: leave the current hits to the malls, find a specialized segment that isn’t being serviced and service them well. Duh:
- If you’re looking for the latest Diamond Rio or Rascal Flatts, go directly to your local record chain. But if it’s the Delmore Brothers or Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith you’re after, they’ll point you to the Ernest Tubb Record Shop.
Tubb has stayed in business for 56 years by catering to a few loyal customers who want hard-to-find music from famous and obscure country artists.
”Our customers are what Eddie Stubbs calls the ‘deep catalog’ folks,” owner David McCormick said, referring to the award-winning WSM-AM and Grand Ole Opry announcer with an encyclopedic knowledge of country music. ”We sell 10 of Hank Snow to three of Garth Brooks. That’s our niche.”
Ironically, this most anachronistic of record stores could point the way for the traditional music retailer to survive in the digital future: Develop a niche and provide a way for customers to immerse themselves in it.
”Ernest Tubb is surviving because they aren’t trying to be all things to all people,” said Don Van Cleve, president of the Birmingham, Ala.-based Coalition of Independent Music Stores, which represents 73 locally owned shops.
”The hits are a dangerous business to be in,” he said. ”People who go to Tubb are not downloading stuff. They’re wanting to possess the art and everything, the whole package.” [The Tennessean]