Schoolkids Records to leave Hillsborough Street for Mission Valley

dmenconi@newsobserver.comOctober 15, 2013 

— Schoolkids Records is on the move.

Soon after the new year, the last surviving store of the four-decade-old independent record-store chain will leave Hillsborough Street. Its new spot is in the former Blockbuster video store in Mission Valley shopping center, 2237 Avent Ferry Road.

“Right now, it feels like the right move,” said owner Stephen Judge. “I think it’s important to be near campus, and near downtown. That’s our part of town, where our customers live and shop and eat and drink.”

Judge has been searching for a new spot ever since he took over from Schoolkids founder Mike Phillips as owner in April 2012. The store is facing eviction from its Hillsborough Street location across from the N.C. State Bell Tower. The entire block will be replaced by a 135-room hotel and retail complex.

Another venerable institution, Sadlack’s Heroes next door to Schoolkids, is also closing at the end of this year. Sadlack’s owner Rose Schwetz will resurface in January as new owner of the Berkeley Cafe in downtown Raleigh.

Along with far more parking than was available at the cramped Hillsborough Street location, the new Schoolkids will have 1,600 square feet of space. That’s an increase of about 400 square feet, which should facilitate more in-store performances.

In the past, Schoolkids has had the Avett Brothers, Best Coast, Delta Rae and other popular local and national acts on its live stage. As part of its relocation and makeover, Schoolkids also plans to branch out into beverage service – possibly with craft beers from local breweries.

“A lot of people come here to hang out, so I want to make the place more conducive to that by adding different elements,” Judge said. “It won’t be a late-night bar; I won’t be staying there until midnight.”

Next year will mark Schoolkids’ 40-year anniversary, and Mission Valley will be its first Raleigh location off of the Hillsborough Street main drag. The store has not been immune from changes roiling the music industry over the last decade, in which online sales and piracy have caused sales of new CDs to plummet.

But like many independent music retailers, Schoolkids has cultivated the thriving niche of vinyl records, a format that was on the verge of extinction not too many years ago. Sales of new and used vinyl now account for nearly two-thirds of Schoolkids’ business, especially among younger buyers.

“Business has been pretty good and steady,” Judge said. “Some months this year have been up from last year and some haven’t, but the overall net is consistently up.”

Menconi: 919-829-4759 or blogs.newsobserver.com/onthebeat

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