Sonic Boom's Jason Hughes: "Capitol Hill Is Not a Viable Neighborhood for a Record Store Anymore."

Following this morning's announcement that Sonic Boom's Capitol Hill location will be closing this fall, I spoke with owner Jason Hughes on the phone, who sounded understandably stressed and under pressure. Here's what he had to say about the news:

Can you give me some more details about why you were forced to close doors?

Hughes: The numbers never got to where they were, and we're at the point where we're running in the red. It's been that way since we opened. We've been in the hole since we opened. We were so late getting in here, I mean, we opened December 11, which is insanity.

In your press release you mention issues with construction and rent. What's the deal with the building?

The corner space, the restaurant still hasn't opened, even though they signed a lease the same time as we did. Velouria had to close 'cause they couldn't make it in the space next door, so that space has been under construction since January. Basically this entire side of the building is just a mess. The south side of the building, not the market where the restaurants are. If you look down Melrose from Pike, it looks like an empty building.

What about this weekend market?

We haven't been able to get out of the lease, so we're going to leave our used vinyl here and rent out spaces to other vinyl vendors, just be open Saturdays and Sundays, just to try and minimize our losses from the rent.

When will you be able to get out of the lease?

I have no idea. It could be another three and a half years. I don't know.

So you're just going to focus on the Ballard location?

I'm definitely not moving. Capitol Hill is not a viable neighborhood for a record store anymore.

Why do you say that?

I'm not going to say exactly why, because it would just irritate a bunch of people, but basically I don't think anybody up on Capitol Hill has the discretionary money to spend on music. I think they spend it all on food and booze and entertainment. The Ballard demographic is a little bit older, they still buy CDs. CD sales in Ballard are more than twice what they are in Capitol Hill. And the store's smaller. And vinyl sales up here are pretty good, but it's not good enough to cover the enormous amount of rent we pay up here.

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