Monday, January 2, 2012
no news here, but western canada's HMV flagship retail outlet on robson street is about to close. once the site of the vancouver public library, it was renovated as a big-box style virgin megastore in 1995-96. after pulling out of the space in 2005, HMV decided to open up shop (they were previously set up further west on robson, but had long vacated the shopping mecca for suburban malls). whether you file under curio or who cares, along w/ the death of the record industry as we've known it (BIG labels w/ a roster of artists making/promoting albums, selling thousands of them, etc...), comes the demise of brick and mortar music retail, a far cry from the CD boom of the mid-90s where i worked for 6 long years as a clerk at HMV coquitlam (#852). for nostalgia's sake if nothing more, i wanted to pop into the robson branch one last time and observe the carnage. w/ giant "STORE CLOSING" posters and "SALE" placards throughout, the price tags showcased more of a super sale than complete barn burner. unfortunately for serious music fans, the deep catalogue the chain once prided themselves in carrying (even in smaller outlets like coquitlam) had long been taken over by top 40 pap and the most "classic" (the beatles, rolling stones, pink floyd, jimi hendrix, bob marley, etc...) of "classic" rock. if you were looking for UK imports of rare german electronic music at 50% off or something equally esoteric (japanese budgie reissues???), you were basically shit out of luck. looking back a few years in music retail misery, collectors and heads fared much better at the 2007 sam the record man blowout on yonge street where people were walking away w/ armfuls of more or less intriguing and diverse product. anyways, w/ a limited range of titles and standard xmas price slashings on most items (not much) my girlfriend and i walked around for a few minutes to soak up the atmosphere. upstairs, a silent video of reggae great gregory isaacs projected from the 2 TVs behind the cash registers made me think of how little black music the store actually carried (sorry, but racks of kayne west CDs—my apologies kayne, i know that's not fair—doesn't cut it). elsewhere, a young lady said to her shopping mate, "will i regret this later?" as she cluched onto a handful of discs. um, probably... sadder yet was the majestic and holy sound of the four tops beaming out of the store-wide sound system. though it was possibly a computer generated selection or a management marketing choice, for me, it was a hollow and ignorant "business-as-usual" selection to soundtrack the end of our once beloved music marketplace. almost as bad as your favourite underground song being used to sell cheese (*unless you know the band personally and are happy that w/ their licensing loot they can finally afford to buy a nice brick of parmesan reggiano). what a mess (and waste)!@#$%?!!! finally, a perfect opportunity for a disgruntled employee to play death metal or something equally apocalyptic over the hi-fi and the brass choose a landmark recording of the almost gone, gone, gone music business to make you remember what once was and why it mattered in the first place. bastards!@#$%!!! as we stepped across its ruins and dwindling returns, HMV robson RIP.