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Altadena Walmart: New store could help Spin-Off Music

Kevin Harris, the manager of Spin-Off Music, thinks that the incoming Walmart could help bring customers into his CD, tape and record store.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Kevin Harris, the manager of Spin-Off Music, thinks that the incoming Walmart could help bring customers into his CD, tape and record store.

This story is part of a series on the disruptions to local small businesses expected in the community of Altadena when a new Walmart Neighborhood Market opens next year. To read the rest of the series, check out the links at the end of this story.

“I Say A Little Prayer,” a 1967 tune from Dionne Warwick, filled the empty the space at Spin-Off Music in Altadena. There were no customers that afternoon, only shelves and cases filled with CDs and DVDs.

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Manager Kevin Harris hopes the new Walmart Neighborhood Market down the street will save his business from shutting down. Music sales at his store have been in “slow motion,” as more customers are buying their songs online, Harris said.

“We’re hoping Walmart will turn it around a little bit,” Harris said. “There aren’t really any record stores left.”

Harris, 52, said his brother Mark opened Spin-Off Music on Lincoln Avenue more than ten years ago, after its original location at an L.A. indoor swap meet closed when the venue shut down due to a redevelopment project.
Love for music runs deep in the Harris family. His parents own a music shop in Oceanside.

The Walmart store could provide a boost of new customers to the business, Harris said. It may attract people ten miles away that would have driven to the Walmart in Duarte, he added.

Harris said his business is evolving to meet consumers’ digital needs. Three months ago, he started offering to convert shoppers’ CDs into mp3 files that he would place onto their music players. He charges customers $5 to convert one CD.

The record store also supports Altadena artists like rappers 2 Hye and A-Money. They sell their CDs on Spin-Off’s shelves and if there’s a sale, Spin-Off also profits from it. Spin-Off’s earnings depend on the CD’s price. For a $10 CD, Spin-Off might earn $3, Harris said.

But sales remain weak and Harris is trying to come up with strategies to keep the doors open. His brother Mark, the store’s owner, has already contemplated closing Spin-Off Music.

“We’ll wait until Walmart (comes) and see what happens,” Harris said.

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