Eastside Records to Close By Year's End
|R.I.P. Eastside Records 1987-2010|
Don't believe me? Try tuning into KUKQ on your car radio while heading over to the Mason Jar or Jugheads to catch a show, followed by a trip to the Counterculture Cafe for a late night latte.
Come New Year's Day you can add Eastside Records to that list, as the renowned Tempe music emporium will be closed by December 31. Co-owners Ben Wood, Michael Pawlicki, and Steven Gastellum have decided to pull the plug on the long-running record shop after almost 25 years of existence.
Pawlicki told me that while they're still doing "a respectable amount of business," he and the other proprietors have grown weary of keeping the shop afloat amidst the perils of running a record store in this day and age.
"We've been working harder at keeping the place open for a little less return each year," he says.
Pawlicki, who's pretty much worked at Eastside since it opened in 1987, also cites a desire to ditch the Arizona heat and experience living somewhere else.
"I've lived here my whole adult life," he says. "And I would like to go where the summer's are a little less brutal."
Eastside's proprietors state it will remain open through the Christmas rush; a decision that Pawlicki says has both its pros and cons.
"There's gonna be more business because of Christmas," he says. "But we're gonna see all these people that we don't see so often."
Eastside's end is a major bummer for anyone (myself included) who's been a customer of the establishment over the past quarter century. Along with Stinkweeds (which also launched in 1987) it was a retailer for indie, punk, ska, and jazz acts that music fans couldn't find elsewhere, providing an alternative to such Reagan-era retailers stores as Tower and even local chain Zia Records.
(Curiously enough, both Eastside's proprietors and Stinkweeds owner Kimber Lanning managed various Zia locations in the mid '80s before quitting the local chain at roughly the same time to open their respective record shops within months of one another.)
To call Eastside an institution would be a major understatement. In many ways, it was the Valley's version of Championship Vinyl, the fictional record store from Nick Hornsby's High Fidelity, with Wood, Pawlicki, and the rest of the staff serving as the real world embodiments of music snob protagonist Rob Fleming