Best Record Store Marketing Strategy

Best: Stay in business
2nd Best: Hold a going-out-of-business sale a la Orpheus Records
3173 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, (703) 294-6774
The best strategy for record stores looking to stay open is to simply do what really good record stores do: host in-stores, e-mail a list of new arrivals to customers, and sell the hard-to-find stuff. But the second-best marketing strategy is to stage a going-out-of-business sale. Tell people you’re closing and you’re guaranteed to pull some of your best (if last) sales numbers. Many stores have tried and failed with this concept (Vinyl Ink, DCCD, Go! Compact Discs), announcing that they’re closing and then actually going out of business. But Orpheus Records in Clarendon has been defying the Grim Reaper since last April when its landlord made a deal for a restaurant to take over the store’s space. The deal has since fallen through, says owner Rick Carlisle, and another tenant has stepped up but has yet to move in. In the interim, Orpheus’ sale is playing as long as a Rush A-Side, and Carlisle continues to go-out-of-business one LP at a time. He says that in the first seven months or so, the sale was a boon. Sales more than tripled. “It is good for business, I can tell you that,” Carlisle says of going-out-of-business.”But I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to tell people you are going out of business when you’re not. Luckily I have the letters from the landlord proving that I’m not making up anything.” Sales have recently flatlined and Carlisle is weighing his options. He’s cut the store’s hours to Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and is thinking about selling new stuff in earnest, but it all depends on his landlord and the public’s taste for $1 LPs. “I could be here for another six months or I could be gone in a week,” he says.