Friday, February 1, 2008

"Rebirth of a record store, and the death of another"

from - by W Jacarl Melton

(WASHINGTON, DC)-- Time Magazine has declared the next big thing in music media to be the rebirth of vinyl. The news couldn't come at a better time for DJ Hut. We told you about the fire last summer that devastated the businesses, located at 2010 P Street NW, and the reopening of Alberto's in the dwelling's basement. Tomorrow, DJ Hut will be back in business at noon.

DJ Hut was established in 2002, taking the place occupied by the well-regarded 12-Inch Dance Records. It sold vinyl almost exclusively, specializing in hip-hop, reggae and house.

It's been a long road back, according to Hut co-owner Chris Stiles. The store was a total loss, with damages well in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and destroyed items including an aquarium, along with numerous records.

"Aesthetically, it's completely changed," said Stiles. The post-fire DJ Hut will feature more record bins, as well as a larger stock of rock, jazz, and 180-gram vinyl reprints. Additionally, there will be more merchandise available for purchase such as microphones, cords, and DJ bags.

Along with these upgrades, there is also a noticeable change to the store's web site. Online, customers will now be able to purchase music files, as well as records. "In this day and age, you can't mention music without mentioning MP3s," Stiles said. This follows suit with what other online music sellers have found, however, those merchants have gone even further and eliminated their vinyl sales all together.

While there's seemingly been a resurgence in the popularity of LPs and 12-inch vinyl, there has also been a death of brick and mortar record retailers. This truth became even more evident with a Post article that ran Sunday announcing the imminent closing of Clarendon's notable Orpheus Records.

Orpheus, which has been in existence at the Clarendon location since 1999, started in Georgetown in 1977. On its web site, the shutter date is listed as March 31. Currently, they're undergoing a store-wide sale in the hopes to move product. In the piece by Marc Fisher that ran this weekend, owner Rick Carlisle noted that:

"It would be easier to sell the stock and store if this was still a vibrant business," says Carlisle, the bearded, barefoot, denim-clad music lover who has presided over Orpheus since it opened in Georgetown in 1977, when there were a dozen music stores in that one neighborhood. "If music was still a vibrant part of everybody's disposable income, it might be worth finding a new location. But for a record store to have a real future, you have to sell on the Web, which I don't do."

Without a doubt, there's a certain appeal to the record itself as well as the record store. Whether it's the artistic nature of a cover or the smell of aggregate aged acetate, vinyl and vinyl stores have a special place in our hearts, despite the ever increasing dominance of online music purchasing in our lives. We've mourned the passing of stores before. Today, though, do folks out there still lament such occurrences? Or are we too far down the digital music highway to stop?

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