Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Death of a Party: One More Record Store Bites the Dust in OK.

As I drove down Air Depot Blvd. in Midwest City yesterday (6/28), I was a little disappointed to discover that the CD Warehouse franchise previously found in a small plaza north of S.E. 15th had been closed and the location available for rent.

CD Warehouse isn't the sort of establishment to wax nostalgic about- it's a chain of new/used CD shops that started popping up in the OKC metro area back in the 1990s, effectively gobbling up the smaller mom and pop shops that couldn't keep up and sopping up the remaining customers left after establishments like Blockbuster Music began collapsing. The emergence of second-hand music stores in this area on the scale that they once seemed to coincide with the time just before the advent of file sharing.

With the shuttering of CD Warehouse, there is, to my knowledge, now a complete lack of a retailer whose primary product is recorded music in the eastern part of the metro. "Big box" retailers Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy (whose music section seems to have contracted in recent months) hold the lion's share of the market, with used multimedia store Vintage Stock, whose music section is dwarfed by its selection of used video games, toys, and DVDs, as the lone holdout for customers seeking anything other than recent releases by acts currently occupying the Billboard singles chart and select catalog releases by established acts.

Much has been made of the death of the record store, whether it be due to the big boxes or online services (both legal and illegal.) There are still record stores in Oklahoma City- a couple of very good ones, at that- but the distance from the eastern suburbs now becomes a legitimate issue, especially for younger listeners. CD Warehouse wasn't independent by any means, and it certainly didn't have the sense of identity that one finds at Size or Guestroom Records, but it was the last nearby location for intrepid listeners in Midwest City, Choctaw, Harrah, and other suburbs east of I-35 to explore bins and take chances on music.

Related:The Tulsa World's piece on "retail volunteerism" (from 2008) illustrates the effect a record store can have on members of the community- what other for-profit establishment can inspire people to volunteer to work?

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