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Charleston’s 52.5 Records Closing Its Doors

We all know the music industry is changing, and that records labels, record stores, and musicians big and small all across the country are having to close their doors and hang up their guitars due to the drastic downturn in physical music sales in this digital era, but it never quite hits home until you hear about it happening in your town, to your favorite record store. Clay Scales has been running 52.5 Records for the last thirteen years in downtown Charleston, and it’s been a mainstay and hub of Charleston’s music scene, hosting countless intimate shows, art showings, and the like, but sadly they’ve reached a point where it just isn’t feasible to go on, so they’re closing up shop on November first. For about the last year and a half, I’ve been lucky enough to live just about five blocks from the store, and for me there was no feeling quite like getting up early on my day off Tuesday mornings and walking over to 52.5 to pick up a new record and bring it back to my house to enjoy with some take-out on my bedroom floor next to my turntable. Clay was always the nicest guy, and I hope everyone can make it down to 52.5 to help him out in the coming months leading up to November first by picking something up. This is definitely a big loss for Charleston, and I know I’ll sorely miss it. Clay’s written a blog explaining a little more about closing the store, and it’s quoted below.

Taken from 52.5’s beersbooksandbeats.blogspot.com:

Dear friends,

I’ve been given an opportunity to end the store lease early, and after much thought have decided that it is an opportunity I cannot afford to pass up. I intend to close 52.5 Records and begin a new chapter in my life. Our last day in business will be November 1st.

My explanation as to why I came to this decision will be a brief one. In short, I have decided to close the store due to a steep decline in compact disc sales. For 10 years, CD sales essentially paid the bills. That is no longer the case. The challenge for me in the past few years has been to find one item, or a mix of items, that will “fit” the store and also sell well enough to make up for the lost CD sales. I’ve been only semi-successful, but I’ve had plenty of fun experimenting. Beer anyone? That addition was a success. Chuck Keppler’s 16 Penny Gallery recently joined forces with us and we’ve had some success selling affordable original art and prints. Additionally, vinyl has seen a big upswing in popularity. We’re selling more vinyl now than we ever have. Ultimately though, the sale of beer, art, and the increase in vinyl sales are still not nearly enough to make up for the decline of the CD. The decision to close to store was difficult, but it seems to me the obvious decision to make.

Many people go through life without ever having a job that they love. For nearly fourteen years, I’ve loved what I do. I consider myself lucky. I recognize that my love of this job is only partially due to my love of music (and beer). By far the most enjoyable part has been coming in contact with so many wonderful people over the years. My work has been a pleasure and I am grateful to all of you for it.

Have I buttered you up? Good, because now I am going to ask for your help. The closest thing I have to a 401k is the money I have invested in the store. Now I need to cash it in.

The “going out of business sale” will begin on September 1st. All inventory will be discounted. Additionally, I’ll be needing to sell a few items that until now have not been for sale. Please feel free to make an offer for any display item, store fixture, or piece of stereo equipment. Everything (almost) must go!

~ Clay

PS – If any of you have any special 52.5 related memories (great album you bought, band you saw play, anything at all), I would love to hear about it in an email or see it posted on the store Facebook page.

Sic transit gloria, 52.5.

1 comment

  1. My buds, Autumn Gold played there with Band of Horses about a year and a half ago. That’s how awesome that place was. Gonna have to make it down there before nov 1st.

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