Or to the horses. Or to the signs that tell you ‘A £10 bet wins you £150 if Drogba scores the last goal in a 2-0 win to Chelsea’.
Yup. Stern’s is now a bookies.
No-one asked me. Sure, you can still buy online but part of the beauty was wandering into the store, flicking through the racks and – frequently, in my case – buying whatever CD it was they were playing in the shop (most recently, the Afia Mala avec Orquesta Aragon album – now on some sort of DVD, I see, but still no CD – which I would never have had a clue about had I not been in the shop that day). If I can’t hear it, I can’t buy it – and, in that sense, the closure of the shop is part of the wave of closure of independent record shops which have led to the Record Store Day initiative to help save those that remain. In Stern’s case, I hope that the closure of the shop doesn’t have an impact on the new releases that Stern’s has been promoting (in its label and distributor capacity) of beautifully put together double CD compilations of soukous greats such as Franco and Tabu Ley Rochereau.
At least they’ve fixed the pop-up player on the site so you can still hear something – provided of course you know what you’re looking for. Other than that, the lesson remains – use it or lose it; and that applies to your favourite record shop as much as anything else.