Shop Around: Silver Disks: CD Warehouse Delivers the Ghosts of Multimedia Past for a Season to Remember

cdw5By Geoff Slade
Contributing Writer

For those of you with Christmas shopping left to do, CD Warehouse in Duluth has something for all but the Scroogiest Retro media fan on anyone’s list. And Scrooge himself didn’t even get any gifts until he lightened up. Besides, who doesn’t like either music, movies or video games? No one reading this, I’m sure. They also have tons of TV series box sets, new and old.

David Kirk and business partner Dennis Harrington opened the flagship store on April 24, 1994 (a location in Roswell and one in Kennesaw came later), when MP3s were still science fiction and vinyl records were relics.

And consider the state of popular music in April of 1994. THE DIVISION BELL by Pink Floyd was the bestselling album in the country the week CD Warehouse first opened. It was also the same month Kurt Cobain died and Frank Sinatra performed for the last time publicly. Jerry Garcia, Tupac Shakur and Selena were still alive. And future used-bin staples Hootie & the Blowfish, Korn and Bush had yet to release their debuts.

Dave took a few minutes recently to chat with AtlRetro about the store and how CD Warehouse has survived an unpredictable era in the music industry.

ATLRetro: Do you remember the first CD sold from the store?

Dave Kirk: Our first customers were three guys from Ohio.  They were driving to Atlanta for Freak-Nik and were in need of the Biz Markie CD.

cdw4How did you get into the retail music business in the first place? Is it something you always wanted to do?

Dennis and I were both working for large corporations and couldn’t see ourselves doing the same thing for another 30 years.  So, we cashed in our 401ks and opened the first store.  We both had a love of music and would spend our lunches hanging out in record stores.

Why Duluth?

The CD business was replacing the album and cassette as the main sales force. There were some used CD stores inside the perimeter but not many outside, so that is where we concentrated our efforts.

How close to reality is HIGH FIDELITY?

It’s probably the movie that gets closest to the actual happenings in a record store. The constant conversations of which album is the best. What group was the more influential? Top 10 lists. “Have you heard the song from this new group from England?” Those are the kind of things we hear all day. And then of course we head out to the local venues to check out the shows.

cdw2Most ATLRetro readers are no doubt familiar with secondhand music stores, but could you describe the process of buying and selling items at CD Warehouse? How has the business evolved in 20 years?

We started out as a used CD store that also sold posters.  As the technology has changed, we have adapted to buying and selling DVDs, Blu-Rays, games and vinyl.  Our selection of new releases is limited to the top sellers, but we will gladly make a special order if you cannot find what you need in the store.

cdw3While album sales in every other medium, including digital downloads, have fallen significantly over the past 15 years (seriously, check this out), vinyl sales continue to rise, with fans of all ages and tastes. Why is it so popular?

We are an independent store and have the privilege to participate in Record Store Day. The bands produce some very unique and collectable merchandise that creates a lot of buzz among our customers. The excitement for this event continues to grow every year.

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