Red Cat Records' Hastings-Sunrise store closes permanently

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      Red Cat Records' second location, on East Hastings Street, has closed permanently.

      The popular independent retailer, which opened at 2447 East Hastings Street in September 2016, sold new and used vinyl records and related merchandise, as well as local concert tickets.

      In a notice posted on its Instagram account on May 2, the store blamed the coronavirus-pandemic closure and the end of its lease at that location for the shuttering.

      "It's with a heavy heart that we have to announce our decision to close our second location at Hastings & Nanaimo," the note reads. "It's been a great five years, but given current events & that our lease is ending we need to consolidate to just one store."

      Red Cat opened its original store at 4332 Main Street in 2002. The decision to open another location was a bit of a gamble at the time, as no Vancouver independent record store had ever successfully expanded since the glory days of downtown retail record sales on and around Seymour Street, known then as Record Row.

      In the 1970s and '80s, Record Row was dominated by local giant A&B Sound, Toronto-based chains like Sam the Record Man and A&A Records, and smaller stores like Collectors RPM and Odyssey Imports.

      Local outlets such as Neptoon Records, Quintessence Records, and then Zulu Records sprang up in Kitsilano and Mount Pleasant in those days, sometimes beginning life as independent record labels featuring punk and new wave artists.

      Red Cat's expansion—timed with a resurgence of consumer interest in vinyl after decades of neglect in favour of CDs and then digital streaming—was welcome news to the Hastings-and-Nanaimo district, located at the boundary of the Grandview-Woodland and Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhoods.

      The independent Horse Records had just closed months previous after two years in business at the same address, and the bustling retail stretch was undergoing a gradual reinvention as a hip location, boasting several retro cafe/diner-style restaurants, secondhand clothing shops and nearby thrift stores, a large grocery store featuring organics, and a variety of eating spots that reflected the area's diverse cultural background.

      As well, new city neighbourhood plans and zoning changes were also promising to densify the district in terms of population.

      Hastings-Sunrise Red Cat Records.
      Red Cat

      Both Red Cat stores were well-known for knowledgeable staff—some of whom were local musicians—who regularly posted favourite albums and top-10 lists.

      Red Cat's announcement stated that gift certificates and store credit from the Hastings location will be honoured at the Main Street store when it reopens. Concert refunds will also be processed at that time. A reopening date has not yet been determined, and online sales will continue until then.

      The Instagram notice continued: "Our original store at 4332 Main Street (Main and 27th) will remain open, and we're still doing online sales and free delivery within Vancouver. Over the next few weeks we will be consolidating stock and re-organizing the Main Street location. When we're ready, we'll start doing curbside pick-up at the Main street location too. Don't worry: if you have store credit at Hastings, it will be honoured at Main Street when we re-open. Same with gift certificates.

      "We'll miss our Hastings Sunrise music lovers. If you haven't visited the Main Street location yet, we hope you will when we re-open. Take care and stay safe."