Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Owner plans to close Indiana music store

by JULIE E. MARTIN jmartin@indianagazette.net on August 03, 2013 10:59 AM

A record store that has been a fixture in Indiana Borough for more than 30 years is closing, but it’s going out on a high note.

So says Dave Anderson, the White Township resident who has owned and operated Backstreet Records for the past seven years.

Despite an uptick in used CD and DVD sales and a growing interest in vinyl among the MP3 generation, Anderson, 31, is bowing out to pursue other avenues of the music business.

“I feel like I’ve done everything I could do right now without putting in an extraordinary amount of time, money and work,” he said.

A drummer who toured for six years with the Cleveland band Above This Fire, Anderson plans to focus more on his role with a regional hard rock outfit, Forbearance.

It’s also likely that Anderson, who studied business management at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, will stay involved with local music by promoting and booking events.

“I love Indiana. I think it’s a great place,” he said. “But I think the music aspect has been a little lacking.”

And it will likely be lacking a little bit more when the South Seventh Street shop closes its doors.

Anderson hopes to hold out until September to “give it a final hurrah with the college students,” he said.

In the meantime, he’s discounting merchandise. By Monday, most items should be marked down 20 percent, with the exception of vinyl records. Many of those are sold on consignment.

That hasn’t stopped regular customers from perusing the used record bins for bargains.

As he admired his haul of age LPs — such as a Led Zeppelin album being sold for a buck — Eric Pinkerton said he will have to look online for deals like that in the store’s absence.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said the Indiana resident. “A piece of the town is going away.”

Pinkerton, 25, began frequenting Backstreet Records when the store was at its Regency Mall location in White Township.

Anderson moved it back to town a few years ago, finding a spot barely a block from where Richard Sabbia first opened the record shop.

That was back in 1979, before its current owner, and many customers, were even born.

Sales of vinyl haven’t been lost in a generation gap, at least not in Anderson’s store.

He said he sees young customers with an appreciation for vinyl records, both used and new. Pinkerton, for one, will clearly miss the store’s record selection.

“It’s probably the only good place in town you can get vinyl,” he said.

Anderson feels his pain.

“I like having the physical possession, I’m a collector like anybody else,” he said, noting that he rarely downloads music.

For Pinkerton, the loss is about more than music.

“It’s always been a welcoming atmosphere,” he said.

That atmosphere is one Anderson has cultivated over the years.

“That’s what I accomplished here,” he said. “I turned it into a spot of social congregation. Just a place for people to not feel alienated, regardless of gender, race, anything. People can just come in and be themselves.”

Though sad to be leaving the store, he’s grateful for the “coolest group of friends” that his regulars have become.

Longtime customer Anthony Edwards has counted on Backstreet Records for blues and gospel music since before Anderson took ownership, but it’s clear he is in that circle.

After Anderson helped him look up a hard-to-find item online and explained why it was so pricey on the Internet, Edwards glanced through the used CDs.

The Blairsville resident said he was surprised to see the going-out-of-business signs in the window when he pulled up Friday.

He, too, said he will be sorry to see the store go.

“(Anderson) has all the retro music you can look for,” he said, adding that it would be nice if someone could take over the business.

Anderson said that option is not off the table.

“Maybe there will be an individual who wants to take the reins,” he said. “I’d be happy to help them with that.”

If that doesn’t happen by the end of September, though, he’ll close the doors.

Chances are Anderson will keep Backstreet Records operating in some form at least for a little while after that. He plans to sell his merchandise at flea markets and, possibly, he jokes, take orders from customers when he travels to Pittsburgh record stores.

Though he eschews digital music, he’s not averse to sales on the Internet.

If much inventory remains by October, he’ll likely take to eBay or other online outlets to sell what remains.

“That might be an experience,” he said. “I can’t rule anything out.”

And if he finds his groove there, Anderson said, he just might keep things spinning a little longer in the record business.

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