Can you spare a tear this afternoon for the long, slow death of the American record store? Virgin Megastore’s flagship Times Square location will become the latest casualty in this sad story in April, when employees have been told that a Forever 21 will replace the music emporium. I know some might find more pathos in the closing of a mom-and-pop indie shop – and hey, we’ve got plenty of those happening in New York at the moment, too! – but as someone who’s spent many an hour wandering Virgin’s endless aisles, I’m pretty crushed about this. The Times Square Virgin kicked off its store-closing funeral today with what they’re calling “the biggest sale in music retail history,” so I dropped by for one last browse.
Overblown press releases aside, the quality of any sale comes down to dollars and cents. So? The huge “EVERYTHING MUST GO” banners adorning every wall and rack at Virgin today were accompanied by smaller signs indicating that most CDs were on a mere 20 percent off list price. The two new releases I picked up wound up costing $15.19 each – not bad, I guess, but not exactly historic. Still, the sale was enough to draw in dozens of eager bargain-hunters on a sleepy Thursday. “It’s been kind of boring the last few weeks, but today they’re going wild,” cashier Shane Hansontold me. “People love discounts!”
We sure do. I’d like to think that some of the people at Virgin today were like me, though – motivated as much by their nostalgia for a disappearing part of modern commerce as much as by the thrill of the slashed price. Look, I download and stream tons of music on my laptop, too; I go record shopping in person every few weeks anyway. The Times Square Virgin was one of the last places in Manhattan I could still enjoy that little indulgence, and in a couple months it’ll be gone. I know this is far from the most serious loss to result from our current recession. But am I the only one who will miss it?
More on pop culture in a recession:
Cam’ron’s “I Hate My Job” is 2009’s first recession-rap banger
Office Space celebrates 10th annniversary (in perfect economy to watch Office Space again)
Jon Stewart’s beautiful (stimulus) package
“I’m Broke and Proud”: The time is right for recession rap