Salt Lake City's Heavy Metal Shop Struggles To Survive In Internet Age

Jamie Gadette of the Salt Lake City Weekly has issued the following report:

Eleven years ago, the Heavy Metal Shop's Kevin Kirk ordered 1,000 copies of SLAYER's "Divine Intervention" and sold every last album in a matter of weeks. Now, he's lucky if customers will buy even 20 copies of the thrash legends' latest release. In fact, illegal downloading, CD burners and big-box competition have forced Kirk to scale back on orders for any artist, popular or otherwise.

"I used to have a lot of regulars who came in every payday to buy new CDs," he said, adding that while many customers remain loyal, others took off in favor of cheaper, more convenient outlets — namely the Internet. He makes up the difference by selling black hoodies, T-shirts and other merchandise bearing his infamous signature skull logo. "I don't know how any independent store succeeds today without selling products you can't find somewhere else."

Kirk's message rings true for indie record shops across the country. Gone are the days when mom-and-pop retailers survived on CDs and vinyl alone. Those unwilling to supplement traditional merchandise with non-music-related items struggle to attract younger customers who’d rather visit iTunes than sift through dusty stacks for Wire's Chairs Missing. West Valley City's Starbound Records stayed true to its original vision for more than two decades before closing its doors this fall. Despite a steady stream of longtime regulars, the stalwart music store couldn't keep up with underground bootleggers.



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