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Keeping Music in Park Place Mall

When it was announced earlier this year that HMV would be shuttering all of its stores across Canada, many music and movie collectors were devastated.

Though we clearly live in a digital age, the idea of a shopping mall with no record and CD store was just sad. So when it was announced that Ontario-based Sunrise Records would be moving in to fill the void, those same collectors breathed a sigh of relief.  The store has now been open in Lethbridge’s Park Place Mall since May of 2017.

According to Chris Dipardo, Vice President of Sales & Operations for Sunrise Records, “It is obvious that digital music has affected the sales of physical media, but it’s still very clear that there is a consumer demand to have something physical in your hands when you spend your money. Digital has allowed for customers to purchase a CD or LP without ever having heard an artist … but also allows them to listen to an online stream, see if the album is enjoyable, and, if it connects enough, purchase the CD or LP.”

A quick visit to Sunrise Records shows strong emphases on vinyl record and CD sales, as well as DVD and Blu-ray versions of popular movies and television series. Other products include record players, albums from local Lethbridge bands and artists, music-related books, and good old-fashioned rock-and-roll T-shirts.

It’s not too surprising, however, that many customers were unfamiliar with the name Sunrise Records, or the impressive growth of the small Canadian chain over a very short period of time.

“Formed in 1977, Sunrise is a record store chain purchased by Doug Putman in 2014,” Dipardo explained. “It is based around being a privately-owned, Canadian chain focused on local music, LPs, CDs, visual product, and clothing and gifts that coincide.”

In a short eight months’ time, Sunrise Records expanded from six Ontario-based stores to a total of 82 stores across the country. This expansion was partly achieved through strong relationships with the company’s key suppliers and mall partners, Dipardo said.  “Having the option to purchase the fixtures from the previous tenant and offering positions to the previous staff within the new company have both assisted in the successful execution of getting opened in an amount of time the odds were against.”

The company plans to keep on improving their business model while maintaining a “local record store” mentality. Sunrise Records intends on growing their services in the near future, including purchasing used vinyl records from customers for resale, and expanding the range of products available for special order for those shoppers with specific items in mind.

“We will continue to work on improving what we have now, taking in local bands’ albums, searching for new mall opportunities, and working our best to give the customers new in-store experiences and great service,” Dipardo said. “We will continue to work on providing a unique experience from store to store based on customer demands in the geographical locations.”

While there are other high-quality and independently-run record stores in our city, many shoppers are happy that there is still an outlet in Park Place that is able to help them add to their home collections of records, CDs, movies, and more.

Though digital and online music services are certainly not going away anytime soon, to many consumers, there is still nothing quite as satisfying as tearing the plastic wrap off that new album they’ve been dying to hear, before getting it home, loading it up, pressing play, and getting absorbed in the music.

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