Luna Music closes Mass Ave. store

Luna Music’s 10-year run on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis has ended, the latest victim in a retail niche hit hard by the digital era.

The independent record store closed on Monday, leaving local owner Todd Robinson with just one remaining Luna location—at 5202 N. College Ave. in the Meridian Kessler neighborhood. Luna calls the location its Midtown/Broad Ripple Store.

Luna first opened in 1994 on West 86th Street. Robinson added a second store, at 431 Massachusetts Ave., in 2001, and a third shop, in Meridian Kessler, in 2006. He closed his original store about three years ago.
Reached by e-mail, Robinson said he was occupied with “family business” and couldn’t immediately discuss the latest store closing.

But Alan Berry, who operates the Naptown Music record store at 4240 N. Franklin Road on the city’s far-east side, said he isn’t surprised by the closing. He’s been a record store owner since 1991 and opened his current shop in 2004.

“We’re in a horse-and-buggy business,” said Berry, who is considering closing his shop at year’s end.

A steady decline in compact disc sales is a strong indicator that record stores, and particularly small, independent shops, may one day become obsolete. Digital downloads are rapidly becoming the favored method of choice for music buyers.

Digital music revenue hit $4.6 billion in 2010, up 6 percent from the year before, the London-based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said in a January report. At the same time, CD sales fell 20 percent, their fourth straight year in decline. The 326.2 million albums that sold in 2010 marked the lowest total since Nielsen Soundscan began tracking sales in 1991.

Big-box stores, online retailers and even illegal file-sharing pose additional competition for small record shops.

To compensate, they often stress customer service, appeal to niche music audiences, concentrate on specialty products such as vinyl records and host in-store concerts.

Compact disc sales at Naptown Music account for about half of the store’s revenue, Berry, 41, said.

“You have to make [up the decline] with other goods,” he said. “Water pipes are your friend.”

Berry still thinks a certain amount of the population always will prefer compact discs. But, as the audience shrinks, and profits fall, “you can probably make ends meet, but is it worth it?” he wondered.

Big-box stores aren’t immune from the trend, either. Retailers such as Best Buy in recent years have been devoting less space to compact discs and using the additional floor space for other products.

Meanwhile, the 1,400 square feet Luna Music occupied on the lower level and the ground floor of the Mass Ave. building shouldn’t stay vacant for long.

David Andrichik, who owns the building, said there’s already interest in the space. Still, he lamented the loss of Luna Music.

“They were a great fixture for the independent business avenue that Mass Avenue is,” said Andrichik, who also operates the neighboring Chatterbox Jazz Club and is a co-chair of the Massachusetts Avenue Merchants Association.

He said Luna Music had been there for so long that the store operated on a month-to-month lease arrangement.

Besides Luna and Naptown Music, other locally owned record stores include Indy CD & Vinyl at 806 Broad Ripple Ave., Vibes at 1051 E. 54th St. and World Record Shoppe at 5218 Keystone Court.



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