Music News

Zia location on east Thunderbird closes; strip mall dying slow-but-obvious death

By Niki D’Andrea

So I walked into the Zia Record Exchange location near 40th street and Thunderbird this morning, hoping to sell a Jimi Hendrix box set and some DVDs for extra weekend cash. But when I walked in, the whole building was empty (save for a couple CD bins), and a work crew was stripping the walls. I asked the clerk what was going on, and she informed me that they were closed; they found out they were closing about a week ago. She suggested I take my potential trades to the Zia locations on 19th Avenue and Thunderbird, or 19th Avenue and Indian School.

I was rather bummed. I know a lot of people knock Zia for being a corporately-owned chain throughout Arizona and Nevada that still touts each location as “the last real record store,” but that Zia on East Thunderbird was one of my favorite music shops, not only because of the proximity to my house, but because it’d been there for years and I have lots of great memories surrounding that location. I first met Brandon Dooley, singer for local industrial metal band The Iris, while he was a clerk there. Valley punks Chronic Future did an in-store performance and signing while I shopped for vinyl a couple years ago. I discovered Badly Drawn Boy there at a listening station headset.

Fans gather to meet Judas Priest singer Rob Halford at a signing at Zia Records in Tempe.

The Zia closing is just the latest casualty in that particular strip mall on 40th and Thunderbird. Edgy mom-and-pop clothing shop Suburban Underground used to be next door, but moved down the street to another dying strip mall at 32nd street and Thunderbird (across the street from the strip mall that houses Joe’s Grotto). The Bashas that occupied most of the mall space has been gone for years, leaving a giant, barren building in between shops. The smoke shop is still there, and so is The Dubliner, but like lots of other pockets around the Valley, this once-colorful corner continues to lose its liveliness.

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea