Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Some food for thought: Cheapo Records and what the store meant to me

This morning before work I went to visit City Pages' website to see if there was any interesting music news to share on my FB/Twitter pages for The Twin Cities Underground. What I got was a big old shock. Despite available sign, Uptown Cheapo to remain open for now. Funny thing is that I didn't notice the available sign when I saw it last weekend when I stopped by to check to see if the Combichrist flyer was still up and visible (which it was when I was there).  According to the City Pages article, Cheapo Disc's 15 year lease is ending this month but the store has renewed it long enough to last into February of 2014. I should note that I will be keeping a close eye on this story and will post a news about Cheapo Discs' situation on my Twitter/FB accounts.
The news of a possible closing of Cheapo Discs makes me sad. That store was one of the first places I visited when I moved back to the Twin Cities from Milwaukee, WI over a decade ago. I remember going there looking for some Apocalyptica music, namely Plays Metallica album. What I found was Apoptygma Berzerk's Welcome to Earth album and that totally forever changed my music collection and taste. My jaw literally hit the floor when I listened to Welcome to Earth. That was my first exposure to EBM. From then I started scrounging the CD bins at Cheapo for anything goth or industrial related. I bought my first Voltaire album there (Almost Human....which made me an instant fan) and a slew of KMFDM albums. Cheapo Discs quickly became a second home to me.

Eventually at one point in my life during my 20s, I had amassed like 1000 CDs and was piss broke. As much as I hated doing so, I went to Cheapo to sell my CDs. For awhile I made pretty good money on the CDs I sold but eventually I stopped when the return was next to nil. I really don't blame the store. I wasn't the only person selling their music to the store.

In recent years I have seen many a changes to the store which includes moving their vinyl upstairs to make room for a book store. Also the store also started categorizing music by genres which includes goth and industrial which was very tiny especially when you compare it to the metal section. Still I was happy that there was a goth and industrial section. My only gripe is that HIM is considered "goth" (puh-leeze...sorry that is the music snob in me. lol). I will say that I am quite impressed by their selection in heavy metal and electronica music. Their heavy metal selection is huge.

In the past couple of years I have come across some real gems at Cheapo Discs. My very favorite find at Cheapo has to be the out of print Burning Empires/Standing EP by VNV Nation. Now I had a burned copy from a friend but there was no way in hell I was not going to not buy this rare EP. Best part of this story? The EP was only $8 or $9 while on Ebay  I have seen it go for $75. Another favorite find for me is Transmissions From Uranus by Hanzel Und Gretyl which is also out of print and rare but isn't as worth as much as Burning Empires/Standing. Again I had a burned copy but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to buy the actual album. Those two finds had to be my favorite memories of Cheapo Discs.

While Cheapo may not have the best selection in new releases (go to the Electric Fetus for that), I think if you spend enough time rifling through the CD bins, you will come across something you will want. I know I have through out the years. I have always found something in the store's used CD bins or regular CD bins that I could use to listen to at home and at work. I always loved the clacking sounds of plastic hitting each other as I flip through the CDs mindlessly. A little retail therapy for me ;). To know that Cheapo may possibly be no more next year makes me sad. It was one of the few places I would want to go to in the ever so gentrified Uptown. I guess if that happens, I will have to make a once a month trip to the Saint Paul location on Snelling Avenue but to be honest that won't be the same for me.

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