By now, most people have probably noticed that our local entertainment store, Hastings, is going out of business.
The company announced in July that it would be going through a liquidation at all of its locations. The stores are expected to close at the end of October.
As I walked through the store recently, I began thinking about the changes I’ve seen since I first went there.
When I was 8, I became obsessed with the rock band, Kiss. I wanted to be Ace Frehley when I grew up. After seeing a VH1 special about the band, I looked everywhere for a CD.
My mom finally suggested going to Hastings. We walked in, and it felt like this gigantic place that I could literally get lost in.
At the time, the music was broken-up into sub-genres. Instead of just a general Rock/Pop section, they had Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Classic Rock, etc.
After choosing and paying for what I thought would be my first Kiss CD, we discovered that the disc had been stolen from the case. Thankfully, the staff knew of a good second choice, with the band’s big hits and some deeper tracks.
Through the years, I saw the store’s selection get smaller and smaller. There was no more Heavy Metal or Hard Rock. It was all consolidated into Rock/Pop. Some locations began carrying vinyl, which had mixed results. Yet, even through all of that, I never thought the store would actually go out of business.
The reason for the decline in traffic at Hastings could be attributed to a number of things. You could blame illegal downloading, ease of internet shopping, etc. What I think it comes down to is the fact that the demand for a physical product is becoming lower and lower.
Streaming services, like Spotify or iHeartRadio, have seen a growth in popularity, which doesn’t surprise me. Although I prefer buying a CD or vinyl record, it’s hard to pass up a service that gives you access to hundreds of thousands of songs for a low price.
The cold hard truth is the market is changing, and nobody was really prepared for it. Record stores are closing left and right, and the only place you can easily get CDs is a store like Walmart.
But what you can’t get at Walmart is the experience of digging through the used vinyl crates and finding an album you’ve been searching hard for. You can’t connect with people with similar music tastes. The experience of a record store is gone.
So, as I see more people walking into Hastings just to take advantage of the large discounts, I can’t help but wonder if their business could’ve helped the store prevent this.
Then I remember the words of John Mellencamp: “Nothing lasts forever. Life is short, even in its longest days.”