On the Demise of HMV…

November 9th, 2016

It was with some sadness that I heard the news that HMV had begun the slide into oblivion with its release of “lower than forecasted” growth figures and the need to close up to 60 high street stores. This isn’t because I have any particular love for HMV and its garish displays and over-priced products, but because in some small way another part of my formative years was disappearing and that made me feel just the tiniest bit sad.

A good portion on my Masters degree was wasted in Manchester’s flagship HMV store, and perhaps most pertinently, years of my PhD were spent treading the hallowed 100 metres between the HMV and Virgin Megastore in Cardiff – it was my favourite thing to do and always the first port-of-call when arriving in the city centre. There was something almost intoxicating about the forbidden pleasures that may have lurked behind the smoked glass doors that led to the Classical department – you could see the tops of people’s heads but nothing else. Everything else in the shop was open plan apart from the Classical department – half-seen in the distance – the allure of culture. Once the doors had closed behind you it was like arriving in Narnia, but without the strange half-goat man, gone was the incessant whining drone of the main body of the store, replaced with the serene sounds of Bach, Vivaldi or Mozart. The whole section whispered class – there were chairs, faux-leather chairs. And reference books. And knowledgeable staff. It was part library, part cathedral, part members-club – and I loved it.

Of course, I’m remembering it through rose-tinted-glasses – it wasn’t that great, but I still really enjoyed browsing the shelves. As internet shopping grew and grew so the Classical department shrank and shrank – it was infiltrated firstly by Jazz, then World, then Easy-Listening then spoken word – it was sad. Of course, I rarely bought anything, I waited until I got home then bought it on Amazon, but the dream was still there.

So then, R.I.P. HMV- please, please, please don’t take Waterstones down with you.


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