Toronto record store to close after 20 years
A boy looks at the album in his father's hand on the fifth annual Record Store Day at Main Street Music Saturday, April 21, 2012 in Philadelphia. (AP/Alex Brandon)
Published Saturday, September 15, 2012 8:41AM EDT
TORONTO -- Selling music on vinyl can be a tough business in the era of digital downloads -- even in a large city like Toronto.
After 20 years, Hits & Misses Records made its final sales Saturday before joining the growing list of Toronto record stores to close over the past five years.
Criminal Records closed last year, the iconic, 70-year-old Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street was shut down in 2007, and other stores have been forced to move to cheaper surroundings.
"It's heartbreaking," Hits & Misses owner Pete Genest said, noting he's now in debt and had rarely been able to pay his rent on time.
Genest said he planned to sell as many records as possible before moving the remaining stock into storage.
Genest does not plan to sell his records online saying he realistically would only be able to sell the rare and expensive ones because of shipping costs.
Although people now get much of their music on the Internet, Genest said he still believes in the record store model.
"I think people will still like to go to a store," he said.
Andrew Scott, a business and marketing professor at Humber College, says vinyl albums provide the consumer certain features that their digital counterparts do not.
Sound quality and "the ritual" of listening to records set them apart from digital files, Scott said.
The two formats complement each other, said Scott.
While digital copies of songs are compressed at the expense of vinyl sound quality, they allow consumers to carry thousands of albums in their pocket, he said.
Proof that there is still a market for vinyl lies just next door to Hits & Misses Records on Queen Street West.
"Our store is doing very well," said Brian Taylor, manger of Rotate This, a store that sells records in all genres, as well as concert tickets.
Hits & Misses, which specialized in punk, hardcore and garage music, is in a niche market too small to make money in Toronto, said Taylor.
Musicians Dany Laj and Jeanette Dowling live above Hits & Misses, were regular customers and friends of Genest.
"Toronto's losing its best record shop," said Dowling.
Laj said while there is a lot of music online, "it only scratches the surface."
With the closing of Hits & Misses Records, "Toronto's losing its treasure chest," she said.