Monday, January 23, 2012

Another One Bites the Dust: Melody Records Washington D.C.

Every year I come to Washington D.C. for a transportation conference at the Washington Hilton, and every year I make a pilgrimage to the Melody Record shop, a short ways down Connecticut Avenue from the hotel. So imagine my surprise and the sadness that enveloped me when I got there today to a sign in the window that said "closing sale" "all items 20 percent off".

The Melody Record shop is no ordinary place. It was voted best of Washington D.C. by the Washingtonian readers, and has consistently been reviewed highly by customers on various on-line sites. But the same on-line access also is what killed the store after 34 year in business. Melody Records is a family run business, and after 34 years the impact of downloads and streaming music, of internet purchases and Spotify finally killed the business.

The sadness that enveloped me is hard to describe. Even though I was an infrequent visitor, I looked forward every year to finding something new and different in the jazz section, which was nicely curated and featured not only hits but the out of the ordinary recordings I like. Today, for example I picked up two Steeplecahse discs, a label that is here in the States but not often easy to find.

I mourn for the independent record stores, the independent book shops, and what we are losing -- the conversations with staff and customers, the chance to open the mind to new discoveries, the chance to take a chance on something that the experienced local merchant recommends. In the past few months I have been at several independent stores -- Wazoo Records in Ann Arbor, the Jazz Record Center in New York City, Sally's in Westport CT, J/R Records in NYC, Rockaway Records in LA come to mind -- and I can only hope each can survive the changes in music buying habits. Some, like the Jazz Record Center and Sally's are run by long-time experts and historians in jazz and other music; others specialize in selling used music.  All are the repository of jazz (and other genres) history, of stories the clubs in New York, of nights in the clubs with the players ,etc. When these stores close, we lose a little more of ourselves. I feel like I lost a friend today.

Here is to the survivors. Please patronize their stores for new music, old music, new and old vinyl; and soak up some of the stories, the pictures on the walls, and the information that these true music lovers have for us. Running a music store today is clearly a labor of love and we should embrace these stores and their owners.



Melody Record Shop will be closing its doors in the winter of 2012.
While we wish that we could continue indefinitely, technology, the internet and the economy has taken its toll, and we have concluded, unfortunately, that it is not possible to survive in this environment. 

We are a family owned business and it has been our privilege getting to know many of you so well over the past 34 years.  We nurtured Melody, in much the same way that we raised our children, with tender loving care.  We watched our store mature and grow, from vinyl, to 8 tracks, cassettes, CDs, and back to vinyl!  We kept pace as VHS evolved to DVD.

For those of you who have shopped with us forever, we are eternally grateful.  We worked so hard to help you locate that hard to find album, special order that specific CD or DVD, choose just that right song and be the first to have the new release from that favorite artist.  We hope that our efforts have helped to bring wonderful music into your lives.  Over the years, many celebrities and politicians have stopped by our store.  As exciting as this was, it was just as important to us to serve the one time customer who needed a quick purchase. 

To our devoted employees, we cannot thank you enough!  You shared our mission, finding each customer, exceptionally important.  We know that your efforts helped us survive the impact of the Internet on music for as long as we did.  

We are sad to say goodbye as Melody was not just a store; it was a community where customers shared the joy and magic of great music.  We are not merely closing an icon of Dupont Circle; we are saying farewell to so many good friends.

With so much gratitude for your commitment all these years,
Suzy and Jack

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