Music hits last track at CD Plus

Local chain to close Winnipeg, Brandon stores


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THE Internet is about to claim two more retail victims as a homegrown national record store chain with roots dating back nearly four decades prepares to close its last two outlets in the province.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/02/2011 (4363 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THE Internet is about to claim two more retail victims as a homegrown national record store chain with roots dating back nearly four decades prepares to close its last two outlets in the province.

CD Plus, a Winnipeg-based company that traces its roots back to 1962, will be turning out the lights in its last two Manitoba stores at the end of the business day on Saturday.

The closing of its Madison Square store in Winnipeg and its store in Brandon will leave the chain with just 31 retail outlets in Canada. That’s a far cry from the 133 it had at the peak of its business in 2000.

JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Customer Samuel Labun browses inside the CD Plus store in Madison Square. The store is closing for good on Saturday.

And those 31 could also be facing a similar fate if the shift from in-store music buying to online buying continues, the company’s vice-president of operations said Thursday.

“We assess it every month and if they’re still profitable they’ll remain open. And if they’re not, they’ll close,” Dale Bially said.

Bially said he can see the day when all of the retail stores are gone and CD Plus is strictly an online retailer — it has an online division that sells music, movies and video games over the Internet and Bially said it’s doing well.

He said he could also see the day when the only way consumers will be able to buy music is over the Internet, although he wouldn’t predict how soon that might happen.

News of the pending demise of the company’s Winnipeg store didn’t sit well with one loyal customer — Reg Litz, a professor of entrepreneurial studies at the University of Manitoba.

“I love that store!” Litz said. “I would say I’m not entirely surprised, but I’m definitely disappointed.”

He said he remembers when record stores were a big part of the retail landscape in the 1970s, with chain-owned stores throughout the downtown and in all of the regional shopping malls.

“Now Sam the Record Man is gone. Opus 69, Mother’s Records — they’re all gone.”

“It’s a sign of the times,” said John Williams, a retail analyst with John Williams & Associates in Toronto. Williams said many of today’s harried consumers don’t have the time or the inclination to go to a store to buy things like CDs, movies or books. So they shop online.

“Convenience — that’s the No. 1 driver. For a large section of the population, saving time is more important than saving money,” he said.

And the growing popularity of portable music players like Apple’s iPod have further fuelled the downloading of music via the Internet, he said. He and Litz said record stores won’t disappear entirely. There will still be a few around, but they’ll be either be “super-specialists” that cater to music collectors or stores that sell a variety of home entertainment products — CDs, DVDs, video games and even books.

Litz said HMV Canada — the last national chain that still has a presence in Winnipeg with four shopping mall outlets — is a good example of the latter. And locally owned Into the Music is a good example of the other.

Into the Music owner Greg Tonn said vinyl LPs account for about 54 per cent of his sales and used CDs about 42 per cent. The rest is other music-related memorabilia.

“That’s pretty much our main business — the hobby market.”

Tonn said when he opened his store in 1987, there were still 27 music stores listed in the local Yellow Pages phone book. Today there are 15 and most of them are specialty stores.

For the record

A brief history of CD Plus

Began in 1962 in Winnipeg with the founding of National Record Distributors.

By 1993, the company had grown to a chain of 30 stores in Western Canada. That year, it was purchased by Toronto-based Rock Entertainment, which had 30 stores in Ontario.

In 1999, Rock Entertainment changed its name to CD Plus and became a publicly traded company.

At the height of its operations in 2000, it had 133 record stores across Canada. That included 11 in Winnipeg, two in Brandon and one each in Portage la Prairie, Winkler and Thompson.

In 2001, CD Plus was purchased by Markham, Ont.-based Records on Wheels and the head office was moved back to Winnipeg.

In 2006, Records on Wheels changed its name to Entertainment One. CD Plus remained a wholly owned subsidiary of the parent company.

With the closing of its last two Manitoba stores, the company will have only 31 stores left in Canada, as well as its online retail store

Its Winnipeg store had 10 employees and the Brandon store had seven.

— Source: CD Plus

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