Saturday, February 23, 2008

Downtown Music Gallery needs help, seeking new home

A notice from the great NYC musical institution and new music booster Downtown Music Gallery:


At the end of this past January, our five-year lease ran out here at 342 Bowery. Our landlord has graciously given us another 3-6 months to find another place but, with 4 to 5 times the rent we're paying being offered by bar/restaurants ['cause we know you can't get a drink anywhere around here - NOT!] for the space our stay will come to an end soon.

We have been searching for a new location for the past 6 months, but if it's anything close to the 1500 sq. ft. we now occupy and need, no matter how far east we go, the realtors are convincing the landlords to hold off renting until they get a minimum of $ 60-75 per sq ft per year - which for 1500 sq ft means a monthly base rent nut of $7500-9400 - even on Ave D, where no one ventures to!

The only people who can afford that are banks that now make a tidy new-found profit off of people taking $20 out of their account every ten minutes [!] and national chains that take a tax loss to blanket NYC with their outlets. No merchant who deals in anything but items that have over 1000% markup [like drinks] can afford to stay in business here, not even groceries and supermarkets, which have all been closing rapidly. Just think: the overuse of debit cards has caused the price of all everyday goods and food to skyrocket - most of the increased amount just goes to the rent!

Anyone in NYC knows there are many spaces - in both prime and not prime areas - that have remained empty for YEARS due to realtors who have sold their bill of goods to landlords - when we've met those landlords, many have lamented the money they've lost due to the pressure from realtors, and were perfectly willing to talk lower prices, when beforehand the agent said they wouldn't budge [and wouldn't put us in contact directly, naturally]

We have many friends here in NYC, some 10,000 of you around the world receive our newsletter each week. What we would like is a basement, second floor or higher loft space [with elevator] with about 1,500 square feet for under $4000, hopefully in lower Manhattan - we don't really care what it looks like, or what some snobs might have to say about the neighborhood, just as long as it's secure. We'll do the rest.

We would love to stay in the Lower Manhattan, but we might have to move to mid-town or further uptown or even nearby in Brooklyn or Queens

If you know of a space for us to rent - especially where we deal with the landlord directly - please contact us immediately!

Our time here is limited. We may have to go with one overpriced space - that otherwise meets our needs - within two weeks, so we'd like to hear from you before then

Thank You

Bruce, Manny, Mikey, Chuck, Bret & all at DMG


Blogger Darren Bergstein said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 24, 2008 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger Darren Bergstein said...

This is distressing news, indeed, another (potential) nail in the coffin to the record store as we know it. As one of the few stores left in NYC that has kept its integrity intact (thanks to knowledgeable employees, a broad swathe of inventory, and now pretty much the only place in the city to buy jazz & avant-jazz of all stripes), I wish Bruce and crew the best for the future and hope they can find appropriate new digs.

However, that being said (and I've said the following in numerous forums over the past few years), the writing's on the wall, troops. The record store is dying real quick-like on the vine. In fact, although I again hope that DMG will survive somewhere, it seems to me that such a move to Brooklyn (or, even worse yet, Queens) would ring the death-knell for sure. It's not so much that Queens itself is an issue per se, but I sincerely doubt that DMG's clientele is going to follow the store out there - it ain't called Downtown Music Gallery for nothin'.

But I fear I must lament this sad state of affairs for the umpteenth time. Call me...well, 'old-school' or whatever...but the day the real record store as we once know it dies will indeed be a sad day for the artform. It makes things even worse when it seems that the shops that are left are only hastening their own demise.

Today was a case in point: making the rounds of the downtown shops (yes, I was in DMG as well), specifically Other Music and Mondo Kims on St. Marks Place, it was once again horribly obvious how both stores, to put a fine point on it, absolutely suck. Kims truly appears to be in dire straits. As an example, their new electronic section was threadbare, even more so than usual, as if many titles had been pulled (for upcoming sales purposes?), and the used section was so anemic they might as well jettison the whole thing. To make matters worse, it has now become impossible to trade in *anything* any longer to these shops. The employees of both Kims and Other Music have seemingly little to nonexistent knowledge of *any* music that either isn't championed by the mainstream press (or within the auspices of 'The Wire'), hot at the moment, or is non-rock based. The name "Other Music" is fast becoming an oxymoron (in more ways than one). No longer do either of these stores (in fact, most current stores) buy music with anything of the slightest experimentalist bent, let alone electronic music that doesn't come from the most mundane, talentless sub-categorical milieus (meaning, those genres that the store buyers seem to deal 'sellable'). On numerous occasions I have sought to trade in material that both stores *already carry NEW in their inventory* and STILL they do not bite. It is becoming a vicious circle of poor business strategizing/practice that will only end in self-destruction: only buy what is vaguely deemed "sellable" and the stores become the equivalent of Top 40 radio stations playing the same tunes/albums ad infinitum.

For the younger generations to whom downloading is now de rigueur, what actual purpose will a record store serve? Certainly Other Music & Kims could care less about farts like me who spend large sums of money there (and have done so for untold years), the kind of customer who regularly contributes to their bottom line and is treated contemptuously like any other post-CBGB's punk thinking about dropping maybe $8 on a single disc.

The conclusion is: I will no longer frequent the above-mentioned establishments. They don't give a wit about my patronage, and in so doing, have shot themselves in the foot. Many of my friends and colleagues have long ago given up in frustration and disgust - I'm just the last one in line. At this point, I think that stores like Other Music & Kims will get just what they deserve. Which is a major shame, but you know what? To hell with 'em.

And then, depression set in...

February 24, 2008 at 4:21 PM  
Anonymous dB said...

Plenty of retail space in downtown Rahway, NJ. NJ Transit stops there, close to major highways, not too far from the current location at all..and I wouldn't have to travel all the way into NYC just to pickup some CD I need right NOW.

I hope it works out for my favorite CD shop!


February 24, 2008 at 9:57 PM  

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