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Columbia Missourian

Streetside Records on Providence to close in January 2013

By Tess Malone
December 7, 2012 | 8:33 p.m. CST
People walk through the front doors of Streetside Records at 401 S. Providence Road on Friday, days after an official announcement that the music store will close at the end of January 2013.

COLUMBIA — Long-time customers and former employees were surprised Thursday night when Streetside Records announced on Facebook that it will close early next year.

The store will shut its doors for good at the end January after 30 years of  business in Columbia, store manager Nicholas Soha posted on Facebook. On Friday, CDs, DVDs and vinyl went on sale for 20 percent to 50 percent off.

"It has been a pleasure to serve you as your Hometown Record Store," Soha posted.

Streetside Records has been a staple of the Columbia music scene since 1980 when Kevin Walsh opened the store. He worked there for 26 years.

At the time, it was the third branch to open in a chain that had 20 stores at its height in the 1990s, Walsh said. The Columbia store at 401 S. Providence Road is the only one left.

Walsh intended for the store to be the first stop when new bands came to town and began to host performances there. His plans didn't quite work out.

Even when Sonic Youth performed, no one showed up, he said.

Still, the record store has had regular customers over the years. Neal Goulet, who lives in Pennsylvania, used to drop in at the store a few times each month when he was a journalism student at MU in the late 1980s.

"Every time I went, there was some record playing. It was like an indoctrination to a band," he said. "That's how I discovered Chris Isaak."

At the time, people relied on record stores to educate them about music, Goulet said. It was a pleasant surprise to go to a store and realize your favorite band had a new album out.

Former employee Rachel McElhany discovered the Jayhawks while working at the store from 1994 to 1996 while she was an MU student. She was introduced to more than just new music though.

"It was probably the most life-changing job," she said. "I met my best friend there and my husband through friends who worked there."

Walsh described his former employees as very "tribal" and said many have prominent jobs in the record industry today.

Goulet and McElhany both moved away after they graduated, and the music industry moved online. The Streetside chain was sold to CD World in the early 2000s and to Trans World Entertainment, the present owner, in 2003, Walsh said.

Today, Goulet said he keeps his old records in a milk crate in his basement and relies on iTunes to buy music. After Kansas City's Streetside branch shutdown, McElhany also turned to iTunes.

Even though almost any type of music can be accessed online, McElhany believes the Columbia music scene will be emptier without Streetside Records.

"There's not going to be a central gathering place for people who love music," she said.

Walsh blames the industry changes, not the store.

"Columbia had a great record store. They can be proud of it," Walsh said.

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