Sunday, February 10, 2008

So Long, marsRED

Sense a pattern here? I do, too, and I'm not happy about it.

Excuse me for straying from books again, but I have to write something about this, especially when you consider that I listen to music while writing: My favorite indie music store, marsRED in Haddonfield, NJ is closing. It's the kind of music store you don't find much of anymore, which is probably one of the reasons Scott Wellborn decided to close its doors. It's a tough business to be in, and even though it seemed Scott had a lot of local support, music downloads has changed the way music works. Scott's a casualty.

I started shopping at marsRED when I lived in Haddonfield soon after college graduation (I went to high school there, too). I'd just left my full time job as editor of SJ Magazine to try my hand at this freelance thing. It's a lonely job, and in the times before Emily and distance running, I needed an excuse to get out of my apartment. I'd walk to Haddonfield's downtown, visit my friend Sumer at SIX Clothing, and then head down to marsRED to check out the used CDs.

I did a little music writing at the time, and had been shamed by a friend into getting my head out of top 40 radio and into better music (he even mailed 'food' for my iPod in the form of MP3 CDs). marsRED became an important source for me, especially when I'd been assigned to write about music acts I'd never heard of. He always knew who I was talking about, and if he didn't, he'd ask.

I ordered most of my music from him -- he even got me Pipettes's debut album before it was available in the US, and when they finally crossed the Atlantic, they played in his store, and he saved me an autographed print because I couldn't make it that day. As I look over at my CD collection now (and, yes, I buy CDs, I'm old fashioned like that), most of what's there came from marsRED -- Ben Lee, Richard Swift, Alexi Murdoch, Capitol Years, Dr. Dog, Thievery Corporation. I hadn't even heard of matt pond PA or Pete Yorn, two of my favorite bands, until marsRED. Sure, some of the artists I read about, some I heard while in the store, and some Scott recommended.

I even got my first clip in the New York Times because of marsRED. Scott sells Sara O'Brien's "I Really Like NJ" t-shirt. I thought it was an interesting shirt, and when Scott told me the story behind it, I pitched the article and -- boom -- I finally made it into the Times. You can read that article here.

My point in writing this? The 'store closing' sale starts tomorrow and will run until the doors are finally locked on March 15. So if you're within driving distance of 57A Kings Highway East in Haddonfield, stop by (I'm not doing my usual amazon.com links in hopes that you'll head to the store instead of buying online, at least this one last time). Heck, even ask for a recommendation and try out someone new. Scott'll lead you the right way, even if he won't be behind the counter much longer.

Read more at www.mars-red.com.

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