Walking past Open Mind Music on Market Street recently I noticed a "shop closing" notice in the window, and now, courtesy of the All Shook Down blog on SFWeekly, comes notice that Streetlight Records is closing its flagship store in Noe Valley.
I've been chronicling the demise of record shops in San Francisco ever since I started this blog, and it seems that the trend will only continue. Having shopped in both Streetlight and Open Mind, I get the sense that what did them in was having a breadth of stock that required a large space, but that didn't, in the end, generate enough throughput to keep up the rent. I think that, for record stores to survive, they're going to have become small, niche-focused businesses that don't keep a lot of outdated stock on hand (there were several dozen square feet of Open Mind dedicated to old dance vinyl that, even at 99 cents each, nobody would really find that interesting). There will always be audiophiles who want their favorite Pink Floyd albums on high-quality vinyl, but fewer and fewer people are going to want to pick up The Wall on vinyl that's over twenty years old when you can get the same album on CD for pretty cheap (or just download it from eMule). I think that we have also entered into an era in which consumers are less interested in albums and are more likely to just buy individual tracks that they like; buying a whole album of stuff when you only really want one or two tracks seems to make about as much sense to a modern consumer as buying 8-track tapes that you can't rewind.