HMV (Again) : Have the Indie Shops won?

Although I haven't been inside for a good year or so I felt a tinge of sadness walking past the HMV 'Megastore' in Manchester tonight. 'Closing Down Sale' in full swing, shelves gradually emptying it now stands as a sad relic of the 80s and 90s. I felt no urge to go in, in spite of the promise of huge discounts I know there is nothing in there I want and I kind of wish they would hurry up and put it out of its misery.
Meanwhile, our main independent record shop, Piccadilly Records report an upturn in trade (and indeed had plenty of punters in when I called in to queue for my weekly rations...yes a queue in a record shop!)...

In her weekly newsletter, the mighty Philippa who has been at the helm of Piccadilly since the 80s says

"Who would have thought it, little old us, tortoise and hare-like, pootling along doing our own thing, outliving the mighty multi-national colossus down the road... Actually, I'd like to thank them all: If it hadn't been for their loss-leading, price cutting war in the mid 90s, we wouldn't have been squeezed out of the high street and had to relocate to the Northern Quarter and just get on with what we're good at: selling records"

Counter to that, I read David Hepworth's blog giving his perspective on this, and read a comment from Backwards7, formerly of this parish who writes (and I hope he won't mind me quoting him here:)

"I don't have the wherewithal to make purchases online, so the past couple of months have been rather strange. New releases dribble, often belatedly, onto the shelves of HMV like back markers in a marathon; that's if they appear at all. The new I Am Kloot album finally materialised a couple of weeks after it's official release date. I was so overjoyed to have something new to play I took it home and listened to it over and over again. The ritual of going into a record shop on Monday and picking up any new releases that I might want is something so entrenched that I took it for granted. It came as quite a shock when the cloth suddenly got yanked off the table and most of the crockery and cutlery went with it."

So if you live somewhere with only an HMV and nothing else to compete, the future isn't quite so rosy. Clearly the future of music retail is a specialist niche market, and there may well be a future for those specialist retailers that can rise to the challenge of meeting it. Easy enough if you aleady have an established business in a major city but will new independents spring up to fill the gap in those places that don't have them? Or will a new retail chain emerge? Watch that (empty shop) space I guess.

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I think this is a city thing. If HMV had stuck to big and medium sized stores in city centres they may still be thriving today. The only people who are likely to open a media shop (it surely couldn't even consider just being a record shop) in a normal town centre would have to stump up all the cash themselves as I doubt if any bank manager would consider a loan.
I don't know how small the number is of people that can't buy stuff on the Internet but, among the CD buying community it must be immeasurably small. You don't even need a credit card or bank account these days as you can buy a preloaded "credit" card from high street stores. Basically, all you need is a letter box.

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