A celebrated independent Australian record store is closing its Melbourne CBD store as it consolidates for plans for the future.
Polyester Records have confirmed that it is closing the doors on its city store, located at 288 Flinders Lane in the heart of Melbourne, owing to the costs of operating in a high-rent location in a climate that’s been less than forgiving to music retail in recent years.
“When the Flinders Lane store opened some 6 years ago it was a good idea in the climate, CD sales were stronger and vinyl was still experiencing a rapid rise (which is debatably still on the up),” reads a statement from Polyester.
“However given the ever-increasing rent in our current location in the city, we’ve had to make a call to downsize back to one store for now.”
That would be Polyester’s flagship store on Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street, which last November celebrated 30 years of service to music lovers and vinyl enthusiasts.
As for the city shop, co-owner Simon Karis tells Tone Deaf that the final closing date will be “sometime either side” of Record Store Day 2014, Saturday 19th April; “so as not to cause a disturbance” to the biggest date in the independent music retailers’ calendar. “We can’t help but ask the question ‘is the huge amount of money better spent elsewhere each month?’ and the answer is yes.”
The exact date however, is “dependent on a couple of factors we don’t have control over right now and it’ll become more apparent in the coming four weeks,” he adds.
“As everyone knows or could deduce… it’s a pretty expensive place to have a shop in the city. You’re subject to constant [rent] rises,” says Karis.
Though he would not reveal the exact monthly figure for rent, he said that the costs on bills and overheads was enough that “we can’t help but ask the question ‘is the huge amount of money better spent elsewhere each month?’ and the answer is yes.”
Karis, along with business partner Nathan Nott, says the decision to shut down the Flinders Lane Polyester was reached after much thought, but were “positive about moving,” seeing the city closure as an opportunity to consolidate and stabilise the brand.
“We’re making the right decision. This is a good next step for the business and for everyone who likes the business,” says Karis.
“We don’t want people to be upset [or] mournful and sending their condolences because it’s not the situation it’s just not the reality for us and we are really, really excited about it.” “The most important part of running a record store is having good records on the shelf.”
Why? because of the silver lining the closure affords in Polyester’s plans to introduce new initiatives. Namely, a re-design of the online webstore “ready to launch within a month,” and – in a bid to ‘wow’ customers hunting for out-of-print titles and rarities – the introduction of second-hand vinyl.
As a pair of (begrudgingly) self-described “record nerds” who shop internationally at records stores for inspiration, as well as satisfying their own vinyl obsessions, Karis says entering Polyester into the second-hand market was “only a matter of time, really.”
“Essentially, not doing second-hand is limiting our range,” he explains. “The most important part of running a record store is having good records on the shelf.”
Second-hand will come “once everything’s consolidated in Fitzroy,” likely in the months following the launch of the new and improved webstore, offering a “world of difference” to the online experience, says Karis.
As for bidding farewell to the Flinders Lane property; “We’ve enjoyed a really great run in a great spot and really kind of valued every second of it,” Karis says, including the much-loved in-store performances and events, which “definitely have been some of the biggest highlights for me personally,” he adds.
But for those who are going to miss the in-stores, “they’re not going to go away,” Karis rebuffs, aiming to continue events at the Fitzroy location; “It’s something we’ve really pushed ourselves to find a solution to.”