Sunday night, Titus Haag, owner of record store and part-time venue Vinyl Junkie, announced on Facebook that he was closing the doors on his east downtown location.
I had last talked to Haag for recent Houston Press cover story "Playing For Keeps," which detailed the vinyl life here in Houston. VJ catered to local punk and hardcore fans, and was known for its vast inventory, Haag's helpfulness and the spot's coziness.
Here is what Haag had to say on the VJ Facebook wall:
As of today Vinyl Junkie, the physical store, is closed. The online store is still open, and we will still be listing plenty of new items on the website so keep checking that out. Online customers wont notice any change in how things are done.
Local customers can still order online and come pick it up in person to save on shipping. East Side Social Center is taking over the space, and they will continue doing shows, so get in touch with Adam there to book your shows there.
As the store moves from a brick-and-mortar location to an online mail-order operation inside his house, I reached out to Haag to see what his reasons were for making the change. Those of you who enjoyed gigs at VJ will be happy to know that the DIY nature of the spot will continue.
By the end of 2012, Haag and his wife plan to move to Central America to live in a village and volunteer. He plans on selling everything off through his Web site, including his own collection. Depending on how long it takes to sell his nearly 60,000 albums, that could happen sooner rather than later.
"The store outgrew this location. It's not 'going under,' so to speak, in fact it did much better than I ever expected. I'm just not a businessman, and I never got into it for the money," says Haag, who feared he would turn into what he calls a "jaded, crabby record-store guy" along the way.
"It grew in leaps and bounds, and we talked about moving to a bigger place, hiring employees to take it over so we could step back, and just approaching it as a job and a business," he adds.
The dirty job of owning a business these days took its toll, Haag says.
"Having a record store ruined my enjoyment of records, shows and bands. It's a bummer. I don't want to sound ungrateful, or not thankful to the people who supported me. I just don't think it's for me anymore."
Haag has total faith that the Houston scene will support the space as it evolves into a venue. The new team already has a few shows coming down the pipeline.
"The older I get the less I care about being successful and having things, and the more I care about feeling good about what I'm doing in life and enjoying it," Haag adds.
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