Amoeba Records’ Los Angeles store will move to a new location “within blocks” of its current spot on 6400 Sunset, where it’s been since first opening its doors back in 2001, according to Marc Weinstein, who co-owns the indie record retailer with Dave Prinz. The company also plans to seek a marijuana dispensary permit for the new location.
Three nearby properties are being considered within the 20,000 sq. ft. range, two of them along Hollywood Blvd. According to Weinstein, that represents just a 15% smaller retail space than the current building. The official announcement will come within the next few weeks.
Amoeba sold the 6400 Sunset Blvd. property to a holding company associated with GPI Companies in 2015 for a reported $34 million, which leased the space back to the mammoth record store; that lease runs out early next year. GPI are developers whose properties include the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center near Los Angeles International Airport and the Granada Hills Town Center. The company is currently in the midst of compiling the proper permits to begin construction on a proposed mixed-use tower.
On May 10, Amoeba’s Berkeley branch on Telegraph Avenue opened Hi-Fidelity, an adult use marijuana dispensary — ironically, on graduation day for nearby University of California.
“That’s OK,” says Weinstein of the so-far moderate results. “It gives us a chance to ramp up the business gradually.”
Unlike your average dispensary, Hi-Fidelity is both curated and offers the customer service of its partner boutique record store next door, under the guidance of Chris Garcia, with an emphasis on independently grown, environmentally correct products. “We always favor the small business over the corporate entity,” explains Weinstein, who points out the “soulful, inspirational qualities” of herb make it the perfect complement to record sales. “We’re already seen it helping each other.
As soon as Amoeba decides on its new Hollywood location, Weinstein says the company will “be diligent” in securing the necessary permits from the city of Los Angeles for its own dispensary. Admitting it would have been easier in West Hollywood – where they scouted several locations – the Amoeba co-owner insists their dedication to the Hollywood area trumped the benefits of moving to another area within Los Angeles.
Despite the havoc streaming has wrought on the record business, Weinstein remains bullish on retail, especially with the resurgence of vinyl. Asked if he’ll reconfigure the new location to reflect that, he says, “Our bins have always been capable of handling both.”
And even with digital ruling the day, Weinstein notes, “Some people like to have the whole artifact curated just as the artist wanted. That experience is something people relate to across all age groups. I see so many people my age [repurchasing] vinyl albums that they’d long since sold off. They’re really amazing physical objects that represented the artist’s work. There’s nothing comparable to that in the digital world.”
Ironically, as Weinstein explains, streaming has actually had a positive impact on his brick-and-mortar world. “Some people take advantage of all the homework they can do in today’s advanced technology, and then go out and buy a physical copy. Each format presents a different listening experience. Some people do it all – they like to stream, listen to vinyl and cassettes, for that matter. And I still enjoy putting a CD in the changer in my car and listening that way.
“But maybe I’m just an old fart.”