Here's How Sunrise Records Plans to Succeed but Local Shops Remain Skeptical

The Ontario chain plans to focus on vinyl's resurgence and local music

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Apr 10, 2017

Earlier this year, Ontario-based music retail chain Sunrise Records announced that it would be taking over the leases of 70 soon-to-be shuttered HMV stores across the country. While some questioned the move in an age where streaming services reign supreme, Sunrise has now divulged how it will provide its own unique record store experience for listeners in search of something tangible.

Speaking to the CBC, Sunrise Records owner Douglas Putman revealed that he is looking to account for both the renewed interest in vinyl records and people's passion for local music in getting his chain to rise again. Putman said each Sunrise location will place an emphasis on stocking music made by local artists, in addition to what's popular in the particular area.

"Managers have the ability to bring in anything they want," Putman said. "Essentially every store has a different assortment. If metal is really big in that area, they can stock more of that." 

He continued: "Tim Hortons in Halifax and Tim Hortons in Vancouver might be exactly the same. But maybe the people in Halifax really like fish. I think a store should cater to that. We're taking the approach that we like certain things about being corporate, like the money and resources that affords you. But I think you lose something when everything's exactly the same."

Not all owners of smaller, independent brick-and-mortar stores are sold on the strategizing, however. Mark Furukawa, owner of Hamilton's Dr. Disc, told the CBC, "I don't think the model will work based on what I've seen in my time in the industry, and it's such a volatile period that I don't think the economic reality is that it will work. What Sunrise plans on doing by paying attention to local demand any mom and pop store, like ourselves or any independent store already does that."

Furukawa continued, "If Sunrise really wants to become a player in the game and have some kind of longevity they're going to have to echo our model in a sense that their really going to have to emphasize customer service and providing the goods or the titles that customers want." 

Ben Frith, the manager of Vancouver's Neptoon Records, even called the Sunrise's move to take over the failing HMV locations as "a big gamble."

He said, "It's hard enough to get one store up and running smoothly, let alone 70 all at once. In this day and age, it seems insane."

As previously reported, all remaining HMV store will be closing their doors by April 30.

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