Haffa’s Records has been in the new and used record selling business since the mid-1970s on West Union Street in Athens. I can remember when you had to struggle down some steps into a darkened basement where you might find an employee studying a music magazine or an underground comic. He would help me, or anyone else, to find an album of an obscure punk rock band or a favorite 1950’s jazz trio when the names of the bands had slipped my mind.
Then they moved up in the world to a ground level store with lots of light and no mildewed corners. The same casualness was present. The same knowledge and devotion to music was present with the staff and the patrons. But “the times, they are a changing.” As I quote Bob Dylan, I doubt he would approve this change.
Allow me to add another verse to Dylan’s 1964 protest song:
Record stores are closing throughout the land.
The reasons they’re closing are beyond your command.
I’ll never remember my favorite punk rock band.
For the times, they are a-changin’.
Haffa’s is soon closing its doors. OK, here is my idea. A month later, it should re-open with a brand new sign that reads: “Haffa’s Music & Art Museum.” Not a record or poster has been moved. Nothing has changed, only now you can’t buy anything because it’s a museum. The same people will come in and thumb through stacks of records. But they won’t be able to buy that Herman’s Hermits album. (It was priced at $1.) It’s not for sale at any price because it’s a museum piece.
Former rocking, now graying, media professors will conduct tours from Ohio University. They will talk of bygone days when hordes would gather at the local record store for the release of the new Beatles album. Art historians will marvel at the 1950’s album cover art of a Stan Getz record. Students and history buffs will get information from former record store employees who are now curators at the great Haffa’s Music & Art Museum.
Just in case this museum thing doesn’t happen, we (the Athens community) have one last chance to experience the golden age of record stores. The store will close for good at the end of this month. And just think, you could own that Herman’s Hermits museum piece for just one dollar.