Closure of major distributor means local record shop will have to adapt

RPM Distribution closed suddenly this week, forcing record stores across the country to seek out new suppliers

Closure of a major nationwide vinyl distributor will inconvenience a local record store, but will not interrupt business.

On Wednesday, RPM Distribution suddenly announced it would cease operations effective immediately. In a press release issued by the company, it said new orders would no longer be accepted and all existing orders would be cancelled.

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Barnacle Records co-owner Jessie Kobylanski said RPM supplied the Kamloops shop, which is located at 290 Third Ave. downtown, with 60 to 70 per cent of its new records.

“For us, as soon as we got that email, my husband Ronan was immediately contacting other distributors we had initially looked at when we opened,” she said.

Kobylanski said Canadian and American suppliers contacted the store to offer services in the wake of RPM’s closure. She doesn’t expect a new supplier to have much impact.

“Nothing is dire straits about this,” Kobylanski said. “It’s just about adapting and moving forward.”

Suppliers, such as RPM, serve a unique function in the vinyl business. They funnel music from mainstream and indie record labels to local stores, which tend to order small numbers of each title.

Major labels, like Universal, don’t work directly with stores that don't buy enough annual inventory, making a middleman the best option for smaller retailers like Barnacle Records.

“It’s going to impact independent sellers, absolutely,” Kobylanski said. “It’s kind of a pain but you’ve just got to put the work in.”

Kobylanski said she isn't too sure about whether or not the closure will mean an increase in vinyl prices, but said she hopes it won't.

The resurgence of vinyl has seen its share of casualties in recent years, partly because manufacturing costs are high and the number of production facilities is limited.

Two years ago, Calgary-based Canada Boy Vinyl — one of the country's only pressing plants — closed down little more than year after opening.

Despite the industry hurdles, vinyl sales rose more than 21 per cent last year, according to Nielsen Music Canada, selling more than 975,000 units.

The closure of RPM might be a setback for the Canadian vinyl industry, but Kobylanski is hopeful she will have access to a larger supplier soon.

“I hope the market responds with someone filling the gap and stepping in, whether that’s the other three Canadian distros really stepping up their game or Universal playing ball with smaller businesses,” she said. “Something like that, hopefully.”

-- with files from Canadian Press

© Kamloops This Week


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