After selling records for 15 years, Cheapo Records has found itself unable to compete with the growing realm of free digital music downloads and will be closing its doors on Christmas Eve.
“With iTunes and other music download sites, kids are getting their music online,” lamented Jason Shields, owner of Cheapo Records. “It’s sad but everyone just wants singles now, and nobody really buys CDs.”
“The diverse selection is going to be lower when Cheapo’s closes because at other record stores they pick and choose what they think can sell,” said Shields.
Cheapo Records isn’t the only record store in Austin unable to compete with digital music sales; Backspin, Sound on Sound and Encore have all closed down in the recent years. Regardless, Cheapo Records will be missed.
“The diverse selection is going to be lower when Cheapo’s closes because at other record stores they pick and choose what they think can sell,” said Shields. “Whereas at Cheapo’s, we would be open to accepting anything and offer it at a low price.”
Shields first started as an employee for Cheapo Records in Minnesota until the founder of Cheapo/Applause partnered with Shields to extend Cheapo Records to Austin. The store opened on St. Patrick’s Day in 1998, selling CDs, DVDs, VHS and vinyl to the Austin community for more than 15 years.
“I loved selling music and giving music recommendations at Cheapo’s back in Minnesota,” reminisced Shields. “So it was a great opportunity to give back to my hometown in Austin by opening up Cheapo Records.”
With the size of Cheapo’s nearly as expansive as a small warehouse, an eclectic catalogue of music artists, movies and TV shows are available to appease any sort of penchant. Immediately walking into the record store, rows and rows of thousands of video games, CDs, cassettes, DVDs, and vinyls can be seen.
“Before Cheapo's opened, the building was arranged differently because it used to be a club called the Mother Earth nightclub,” said Shields. “We definitely had to fix a few things so we could store as many records as possible.”
As the closing day draws near, more and more people are flooding into the store to snag the last of what Cheapo Records has to offer. They venture in and out of the rows of music, many with looks of sadness and lament.
“It really is sad to see Cheapo’s go because it was such a great part of my life while growing up,” lamented Austin resident, John Harmon. “I would come here after school, meet up with friends, and buy some amazing finds.”
Shields plans to spend the last few days at the music emporium by giving back to the Austin community that has supported Cheapo’s for so long. The store has been offering up to 20 percent off on all merchandise, selling CD holders and $15 t-shirts. The record store will also be holding in-store parties with live music on its remaining Saturdays.
“Austin has supported the store since day one back in 1998,” said Shields. “It’s my thank you for their never-ending love and support.”