Steve Manley is the owner of B-Side Records which has resided on State Street for decades.
“I have no complaints, I’ve seen so many businesses get crushed by all that. And we’ve been able to hang on and we’ve been doing ok. We’re moving into a new spot, but hopefully we’ll be able to afford that by expanding our inventory. So, year. I feel like we’ve been pretty lucky.”
and the move of his business due to a probable demolition of the Current B-Side building.
Manley is also planning to move his business up the street, after being displaced by a plan to build a mixed-use development. While those plans haven’t been finalized, Manley decided to move anyway.
“I went through the early stage of being upset about potentially being kicked out of a spot we’ve been at for 40 years almost.. TO being kind of excited to start our next chapter in a new space, but also nearby. So we’re not so hard to find..”
I asked about what would be changing in B-Side.
“We’re gonna expand our inventory and maybe sell music related items: posters and t-shirts. Stuff like that”
Evan Woodward is the manager of Strictly Discs, on Monroe Street on Madison’s west side. He says that not only did the store weather the pandemic – they saw a resurged interest in physical music.
“We’ve really seen, I would say, a pretty significant pickup of a newer clientele. Folks who haven’t really been going to record stores for year and years and years. And they’re just kind of getting into it. So we emerged from the COVID times with seemingly a much bigger audience.”
Dave Zero owns Madison Music Exchange. He says things keep changing.
“The actual physical music industry is always evolving. There’s quite a few more people buying LPs now than there have been in the previous 30 years. And it’s great there’s just more interest, more interesting hanging out with your music and enjoying it.”
Not all record shops made it through the pandemic – though, some that are closing may be staying around in some form.
At the end of April, Sugar Shack Records on Atwood Avenue closed its doors after more than forty years. Owner Gary Feest tells other media outlets that plans are in place for one of the store’s employees to start a new record store of her own, using some of Sugar Shack’s catalog.
And earlier this spring, The Exclusive Company, a small chain of record shops throughout southern Wisconsin, announced it was closing its doors, with plans for at least the Milwaukee location to stay alive under new ownership from Lilliput Records.
“We are opening up Lilliput Records. We don’t have a specific opening date. We’re thinking it will be around mid-july. So we will be The Exclusive Company through then. Yeah, we’re Lilliput Records. The whole goal is to be very community based- working with local artists, business, musicians. We’d like to bring back having bands play, local and larger than that.”