Two customers at Albums on The Hill flipped through the rows of compact discs in the aisles of hip-hop and rock, searching for the band they wanted.
“The prices here are competitive, (but) I do buy my music online half the time,” said Sandy Clement, 33, a regular customer at Albums on The Hill in Boulder.
Albums on The Hill, along with other CD retailers, said they have been experiencing a decline in business that they attribute to the increasing number of people who download their music online instead of buying CDs.
“We’re all going down the shitter,” said Andy Schneidkraut, the Albums on the Hill owner.
Schneidkraut said Albums on The Hill opened in 1975, and he has owned it since 1987.
“Ten years ago, there were 15 stores in Boulder specializing in albums,” Schneidkraut said. “Now there is only two left: Bart’s CD Cellar (on Pearl St.), which is now owned by a chain, and Albums on The Hill. We are the last independently owned store.”
He said his business started declining 10 years ago when “big boxes,” or enormous retail stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, started to sell CDs. Napster, an Internet site used to download music or listen to the radio, has also hurt his business.
“I can’t compete with digital files,” Schneidkraut said.
Albums on The Hill is not the only CD retailer that is losing business. Sam Goody announced it is closing 341 stores, and Tower Records is projected to close down this coming December.
Tower Records filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August and sold its assets to the Great American Group, a liquidation firm.
The store is expected to close before Christmas, said Bill Bennett, a manager at the Tower Records in Denver.
Brendan Hamilton, 24, a employee at Albums on The Hill, said that when he lived in Connecticut he would shop at Tower Records and Sam Goody all the time for his CDs. But now he buys his music online or from Albums on The Hill because of the discounts he receives.
However, owner Schneidkraut remains optimistic.
“I have customers that are genuine music lovers,” Schneidkraut said. “They want to have the physical (CD) in their hands.”
Schneidkraut said he plans on staying in business another five and a half years.