Declining sales force Mich. record store to close

By Adam Graham

The Detroit News

DETROIT (AP) -- Yet another casualty of the shrinking record business, Record Time -- a Metro Detroit institution for 27 years -- will sell its final piece of vinyl early next year.

Owner Mike Himes said he'll be shutting the doors of the store's Roseville location in March, at the latest. He cites years of declining record revenues -- record sales were cut in half over the last decade -- as well as a massive overhead he can't keep up with any longer.

"I've known this day would come, I was hoping we could just ride it out, but we're not able to do so any longer," said Himes. "I've been purely in survival mode for about the last three years, and it hasn't been fun, really. It's taken its toll. We can't stay open just to stay open anymore."

The first Record Time opened in 1983 and held various locations in East Detroit before settling in its current location in 1996. Branches were opened in Rochester and Ferndale though both eventually felt the pinch of declining record sales. When the Ferndale store closed in 2007, Himes said at the time, "the crystal ball doesn't look so sunny."

Record Time's Roseville location covers 8,500 square feet and has a large selection of used vinyl recordings, as well as a heavy presence of electronic records. In recent years, Himes changed his business model to focus "98 percent" on used products, but that presented its own set of problems: If they didn't have something used, they didn't have it at all, which led to store regulars buying product elsewhere. "We weren't able to give customers what they wanted," he said.

Record Time will stay open through the holidays and will participate in a Black Friday event sponsored by Record Store Day, which offers exclusive releases for independent record store retailers. After that, he plans to liquidate the store's product, and will probably toast the store's long history by hosting in-store events with bands and DJs.

Down the road, Himes says he's looking into the possibility of opening another store, but doesn't have any concrete plans. "We could survive in a smaller spot," he says. "There's still a good niche for what we do."

Chris Flanagan, owner of Street Corner Music, moved his store from Beverly Hills to a smaller location in Oak Park in 2009. He says Record Time still has a shot.

"I think the days of huge record stores, square footage wise, are pretty much over. You just can't have that playground anymore," he says. "But it's really hard to kill off a name. Even if (Record Time) dropped out and came up again six months later, it would probably still have a chance.

"There are people that are going to be looking for you for a long time to come, and if things improve around here, (Himes) might have another chance to open his store back up."

Published: Tue, Nov 23, 2010

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