One More Vinyl Outlet Dies in Edmonton

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One More Vinyl Outlet Dies in Edmonton

Postby jon » Mon Jul 06, 2015 4:01 pm

Edmonton’s Permanent Records going out of business
By Sandra Sperounes
Edmonton Journal
July 6, 2015 4:36 PM

Edmonton’s music scene is taking another hit.

One of Old Strathcona’s record stores, Permanent Records, is going out of business.

Co-owner and musician Mike McDonald says the store’s monthly rent has increased by about $400 over the last five years, but revenues haven’t kept pace. He and his friend/co-owner Clint Anderson even work second jobs to try to cover Permanent’s expenses.

“We got rented to death and we can’t do it anymore,” says McDonald. “The revenues aren’t enough to cover rent, so we’re in a spot where we can’t buy new stock. People aren’t shopping as much anymore and Whyte Avenue has been pretty dead.”

A closing date has yet to be determined. Permanent’s lease runs out Oct. 31, but McDonald and Anderson are willing to leave sooner if another tenant wants to take over the space at 8126 Gateway Blvd. In the meantime, the two are hoping to sell off Permanent’s entire stock of vinyl and CDs to pay off their creditors, including their landlord, record distributors and local bands who sell their albums in the store.

“We need to sell this stuff,” says McDonald. “It’s at a discount right now — almost everything is 25 per cent off. We’ll probably sell our fixtures and anything that’s in the room. Maybe we’ll have to do a couple of benefit gigs, too.”

Permanent’s lack of permanence follows the recent loss of two Edmonton music venues.

The Pawn Shop on Whyte Avenue shut its doors in June due to the same combination of higher rents/lower revenues. The Artery on Jasper Avenue closed at the end of March to make way for construction of the Valley Line LRT.

McDonald, who fronts the local band Jr. Gone Wild, recently appeared in Dead Venues, a film about some of the city’s lost rooms, including Rebar and Stars, two of the clubs that previously occupied The Pawn Shop’s space. (Metro Cinema will screen the film again on July 16.)

“There are fewer and fewer cooler things for people to see (on Whyte Avenue),” says McDonald. “Places are closing, then you see all the boarded-up windows and For Lease signs. Landlords could lower rents so it was affordable and they could guarantee a steady cash flow or they can have empty places, waiting for tenants.”

He initially opened Permanent Records with Anderson and another friend/business partner in 2010. All three had worked at Megatunes, a former Whyte Avenue record store. (The partner left Permanent a few years later.)

“We started off strong, and for a couple of years, things were going great,” says McDonald. “But traffic has dropped off noticeably over the last couple of years. We’re tapped right out. ”

He blames the decrease in revenues on the downturn in the economy and a growing disinterest in paying for CDs and vinyl in a world where cheap streaming services and free leaks are all the rage. “I’m sad, frustrated, angry. I never had anxiety before I opened this store and I don’t like it.”

If there is a silver lining in all of this, it’s that McDonald has channelled his frustrations into his music. One of Jr. Gone Wild’s newest tunes, Fool’s Errand, was inspired by the store. The song is one of a handful recorded by the ’80s and ’90s cowpunk legends since reuniting in 2013.

When Permanent Records closes, three other independent record stores will still exist in Old Strathcona — Blackbyrd Myoozik, Sound Connection and The Gramophone. There’s also Listen Records on 124th Street and Freecloud Records on 101st Street, near Victoria School.
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