It seems the record store world is in a constant state of shuffle in Phoenix.
Recent months have seen Zia Records move up the road to its biggest location yet, Eastside Records reborn on Forest Ave., and the birth of Scottsdale's The Record Room, which joins wax shack stalwarts like Stinkweeds and Revolver Records in providing vinyl hounds ample crate digging grounds.
But where there's ups, there's downs: Hoodlums in Tempe closed its doors this fall after 14 years, and now Stephen Wilkinson, owner of Rockzone Records in Tempe, says he's closing his store down this month.
"There's multiple factors," Wilkinson says, "Aside from [it] being a horrible economy and having a day job. I've had somebody running my store, and it's just been really difficult from several different angles."
Wilkinson worked at the fabled Valley record store Rockaway Records for a decade before purchasing the business in 2007. Rechristening the store Rockzone, he set up shop on Warner and McClintock before moving to his current location on University and Price.
Wilkinson says there's still plenty of hope for indie record stores, but he's getting out of the game.
"The sales of vinyl have continued to go up the last five years, they've continued to get strong. There's been a big resurgence in used vinyl, classic albums being reissued on vinyl, and new artists issuing vinyl," he says. "That's nice to see there."
But Rockzone devotes plenty of floorspace to CDs, as well, and that format isn't seeing a spike in cool points.
"The compact disc seems to be on its way out, unfortunately," he says. "I appreciate the sound of vinyl, I love the warmth of it. It cannot be replicated. But I appreciate the convenience of CDs. I like the bombastic sound and clarity you can get from CDs."
He remains open to the idea that CDs could experience a retro-fetishistic resurgence, but he's not sticking around to find out.
"Everything seems to go in cycles," he says. "If it's been gone for 10 years or more, it seems to come around. The possibility is always there, I can't predict the future. There's supposedly this mini-resurgence of cassette tapes recently, which I think is a bunch of hot air. I don't believe that one there. That format has been surpassed such a long time ago."
In the meantime, Wilkinson plans on taking care of his son, focusing on his cover band, and figuring out what's next. He says Rockzone is clearing out product like crazy starting on Friday, December 14, offering discounts of "at least 50 percent" all merchandise until closing on Saturday, December 22. The store is closed on Sundays.
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