Monday, November 23, 2015

Farewell to Newbury Comics

I've been shopping at Newbury Comics for 20+ years now. It had always had the advantage of being a local, indie store even though it has had a ton of locations throughout New England. Even while stores like FYE have sold new release cds for $20, they have mad the vast majority of their new releases for $7.88 to $12.88. But, I think I'm done after all these years.

Why, you ask? It's not because I've moved to digital music. While I may do some, I still like physically owning albums. I have a collector's/pack rat's sensibilities, and I really like being able to show off my music collection. I also prefer the experience of walking into a record store to shopping online.

Lately (ok, for the past few years now), they just haven't been carrying what I want. Back in my 20s, every album I wanted to buy could be found at Newbury Comics, no matter how obscure. Ok, fine... maybe they didn't have the new 7" from that one band I saw opening a show at the Middle East Upstairs that played that one show and that was it, but nowadays I open up my weekly newsletter from them, and I don't see any of the releases I want on there. This year alone has seen them fail to carry albums from Colleen Green, The Deslondes, Brown Bird, David Wax Museum, Hop Along, and more. And even when they list an album, I often get to my local location that day to find they sold the single copy they were sent. 

I know they've cut back on their music to fit in more "lifestyle" items, like action figures and t-shirts. I'm ok with that. You gotta do what you gotta do to stay in business, and I like checking out all the additional items. What I don't like is, as they move into malls and become the "big and boring mall stores" their ads used to mock, having associates stop you every six feet to ask if you want to try on the $40 t-shirt you brushed up against, like I'm shopping at an Abercrombie & Fitch.

To be fair, they do sell music still. If I needed 300 copies of the new Adele album, I would have been in luck. But a single copy of the new Shovels & Rope? Nope. I remember in 2000 I would have a cashier openly roll their eyes while ringing up a Dropkick Murphys cd. Just a few years ago they had giant Taylor Swift ads in their display windows. They seem to be openly courting teenagers that don't buy physical music anymore.

That's where I stand now. I've been pushed to being forced to buy music through Amazon now, even though I prefer physical record stores. That's where I end up buying most of my albums, anyway. Why keep making the special trip only to keep walking out empty handed? Let's hope that Turn It Up! or Bull Moose Music expands into my area sometime soon, so one of my favorite activities isn't lost forever.

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