Into the Music's attempt to maintain a toe-hold in Osborne Village will end this summer, done in by its own success in re-vitalizing the vinyl LP.
The used vinyl/CD/DVD store, formerly known as Movie Village/Music Trader, is closing its Osborne Street location in June, undone partly because of the successful revival in popularity of vinyl records.
Into the Music owner Greg Tonn said he just was not able to buy enough used vinyl LPs at the Osborne Street location to keep the store supplied with inventory. He said one of the reasons for that is the growing public perception that their old collections of Fleetwood Mac and Led Zepplin records are now more valuable.
The effect – in the case of Into the Music's business model – is that they have priced themselves out of the market.
"In reality it is a very narrow band of titles that are more valuable," Tonn said. "People's expectations for what they want for their records has risen to the point where even when I make an excellent offer for their collections it is not enough. My offers have come up, but it's still not enough."
Tonn acquired Music Trader/Movie Village at the beginning of 2018 and set up a second location of Into the Music which has been around for more than 30 years and spent its early years a couple of blocks down Osborne before decamping to the Exchange in 2003. (The former Movie Village owner, David Ringer, is also the owner of the Osborne Street building.)
'People's expectations for what they want for their records has risen to the point where even when I make an excellent offer for their collections it is not enough. My offers have come up, but it's still not enough' – Into the Music owner Greg Tonn
Tonn said he knew that it would be tight and that he likely would not make a profit the first year. But as the year went on he realized he was not able to acquire enough inventory to keep the store stocked. He said transferring inventory from his larger McDermot Avenue location was compromising the success of both stores.
"We thought we could build something. The store set up and the culture there are great but we really missed our projections by a good quantity on a couple of areas that are really crucial," he said. "It was just not sustainable."
Into the Music's McDermot Avenue location is not going anywhere and in fact, Tonn said a customer engagement process is going on which he expects will lead to some new things there.
The lease on the Osborne Street store is up at the end of June and its closure will be like the end of an era for Osborne Village. Movie Village closed in 2012 when its building was taken down to make way for new retail development and its stock of DVD rentals took up shop in the current location that was called Music Trader at the time.
Tonn tried to continue operating the movie rental business for a while but sold off the DVDs last year.
Although the flow of used LPs has decreased over the last couple of years, Tonn believes there's still plenty of good LP collections out there just waiting for their Baby Boomer owners to sell them off. Into the Music also does a good business in used CDs, but they too are filled with just too much material that has already flooded the market.
"The music streaming services have had a big impact on the CD business" he said. "The same thing happened with vinyl in 1990 when cheap CD players hit the market and everyone got rid of their LPs. LPs didn't stop selling but mainstream, easy-to-find stuff became really hard (for Into the Music) to sell. All the fringe stuff sold very well. It's the same thing with CDs."
The Osborne Street store has about eight employees.
"That's very sad," he said. "They have all been informed. They all need to do what is best for them."
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.