The Record Exchange in Salem closed its doors forever this week.
First, let's toss out the empirical facts and disclaimers. A number of people lost their jobs due to the consolidation of staffs. I was one of them. Frankly, I barely worked there, so it is no real loss to me... I can get my discount, and my friendships are intact. However, some people who depended upon the ludicrous pittance that Don Rosenberg pays them in order to eat also lost their jobs. That is a bad hit. So yes, there is some bitterness involved, and some of the tone of this blog will extend from that, but let us not pretend for one minute that I am totally biased. I know what happened and soon... so will you.
This is no vast conspiracy to rob the Roanoke area of independent music outlets. YOU are the reason for the failure of the Record Exchange. If YOU would pay two bucks more for your Nickelback CD instead of shopping at Best Buy and WalMart, this place and others like it would thrive. Everyone runs around throwing their hands up... WHAT WILL WE DO? IT IS JUST LIKE SAFE AS MILK. Yes. It is. You didn't shop there either. If you had, it would still be there. There has been a lot written, some by me, about bad business models and poor decision making. This is all true. More will be written about internet downloading and major label CD pricing. Also true. Nonetheless... at the end of the day, the Salem Record Exchange failed because it didn't have the numbers.
Now, a person with no real knowledge of business will say... "the prices were too high, and if they were lower, we'd shop there." Ever buy anything at FYE? EVER? Then shut the fuck up. Record Exchange's prices remain between mall prices and big box prices. New releases are priced significantly lower the first week of release. "But they never have what I want." Neither does Best Buy, unless you listen to the radio incessantly. You just meander around the stacks until you find SOMETHING to buy... of course they have more in store stock... LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THE PLACE. Barring exclusives... there is nothing that Best Buy can get that Record Exchange can't get. If you are into more esoteric music, Record Exchange can get it faster and cheaper than Best Buy. Now, there are things Record Ex CAN'T get... this is what the internet and mail order is for.
Bottom line is this folks... if you don't shop, don't bitch when your only option becomes the mall or Best Buy. That day is coming soon. Very soon.