Remember the thrill of finding a gem while thumbing through stacks of vinyl? Or the clack of CD cases as you flipped impatiently in search of that one album that kept eluding you? If not, then you can't possibly be a day older than 18, and you can't possibly know what you're missing out on. The camaraderie inside a record store is unlike any other. It's the type of place where kindred spirits meet, be they goths, punks, ravers, metalheads, hippies, emo kids, whatever -- and discover fliers listing live shows. For West Broward natives like me, that place was Uncle Sam's Music on University Drive. The strip mall store had hair dye, T-Shirts, and plenty of tunes to satisfy every angst-filled phase. Uncle Sam's will close at the end of January. "We have no choice but to [close], not being able to catch up with utilities, basic operations," says Ariel Mendez, part-owner of the Lauderhill store. "In the last year, you've had I don't know how many record stores close, so it's not really that surprising." Mendez blames the weak economy and competition from online retailers and downloads. Everything in the store is currently 50% off. What can't be sold in the next few weeks will either get shipped to the Uncle Sam's in South Beach, sold online, or donated. There will be no farewell soiree, no fanfare. Our little beacon of indie-rock since 1985 will simply fade away.
The closing of Uncle Sam's is a huge loss for teens and 20-somethings in West Broward. The saddest part is that many of them don't even know it.
"What we're familiar with, as far as like hanging out at a record store, looking at fliers, getting suggestions, they're just doing that at the tip of their fingers now, sitting in front of the computer," says 34-year-old Mendez, who has worked in record stores since 1992. Mendez has no idea what he'll do next to make a living. But he probably won't miss the long commute from Miami.
After the jump, my favorite record store movie moment ever, Jon Cryer serenading Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink (1986):
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