CINCINNATI (WKRC) – After 49 years in business, the end is near for Cincinnati’s oldest operating vinyl record store.
Mole’s Record Exchange opened in 1974 and has occupied its current building on Calhoun Street since 2000. But on June 3, Mole’s will close for good.
“It’s the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make,” said owner Dean Newman.
Newman was one of Mole’s earliest customers and was soon hired on as an employee in 1975.
“I never took any money, I just traded it for – my time for records,” Newman said.
He’d have happily continued with that arrangement, but in 1989, he said his boss offered to sell him Mole’s.
“Called me up one day and said, ‘Hey, I’m selling the store, I’m moving out west, you want to buy it?’” Newman recalled.
Newman has owned Mole’s ever since, welcoming countless customers and even Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top.
As obsolete as vinyls may sound for some, last year they accounted for $1.2 billion of music sales nationwide and Newman says his customers actually skew young. Others are nostalgic for the records they once owned.
“I’ve had customers who sold me their record collection years ago and they trade it all in for CDs and now they’re coming back like, ‘Oh, I’ve dug my turn table out of the garage and I want to go back and get my vinyl again,’” he said.
Mole’s is far from the only record store in Cincinnati. When Mole’s closes, Everybody Records, which opened in 1978, said it will be the city’s oldest.
While demand for Mole’s records has grown, so has demand for its building.
“I’ve had people for years wanting to buy the building,” he said.
This year, he finally got an offer he couldn’t refuse. Rather than set up shop somewhere new, he decided the time was right for a much-needed break.
“It’s been a hell of a ride. It’s been a hell of a ride,” he said.