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VOL. 124 | NO. 179 | Friday, September 11, 2009

Pop Tunes Closes Stores

By Tom Wilemon

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Poplar Tunes, a record store started in downtown Memphis in 1946, closed Thursday along with its sister stores, Pop Tunes. A sign at the flagship original store said a number of economic factors had “reduced the traditional record store to road kill with a slight pulse.”

The small chain of stores is the second home-grown Memphis retail enterprise to close this week. The three High Point Coffee retail stores in the city have also shuttered operations, although the Oxford-based coffee company will continue to sell its product from its distribution facility.

Signs were posted at the record chain’s flagship store at 308 Poplar Ave. One gave an address for a trustee for people to contact if they were interested in the inventory, furniture or location. The other was a message to customers.

“We appreciate your business over the years,” the typewritten note stated. “The economic downturn, in conjunction with rampant illegal downloading, poor support from our suppliers (the record labels), low margins, big box retailers like Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart selling music below our cost, high taxes and other government costs (especially here in Memphis) and expensive health care insurance has reduced the traditional record store to roadkill with a slight pulse.”

Michael Powell of Fresh Ideas, who was selling tickets to the Soul and Sax Concert from all the Pop Tunes locations, said store managers notified him Thursday morning to come pick up the tickets.

Pop Tunes had expanded with several stores during the 1990s. The message to customers concluded by asking them to support independent retailers “which keep money and jobs close to where you live and help strengthen the local economy.”

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 83 223 16,103
MORTGAGES 62 207 18,599
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 323 32,794
BANKRUPTCIES 66 187 10,687
BUSINESS LICENSES 28 86 5,172
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 37 127 11,344
MARRIAGE LICENSES 15 75 3,848

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