Sale’s Leading Edge Music will close after 23 years.
Facing a downturn during the crucial Christmas period, owner Neville Gutteridge said it was getting harder to keep up with advancing technology, and will shut his doors on January 31.
“This was our worst Christmas in 23 years,” he said.
“A lot of businesses here actually had really rotten Christmases.
“Support your local businesses, as each time a business closes, it forces even more people to go online, just to find even a $5 saving.”
The follow-on effects from the closure will mean that five people will lose their jobs, which, Mr Gutteridge said, would lead to five more people joining an already crowded pool of people looking for new jobs.
The worst part, he said, was the loss of local knowledge.
“People rely on us for music and gear,” he said.
“It’s a specific knowledge and towns can’t afford to lose it.
“In previous years, it was like ‘Hi, what should I get John for Christmas?’, and we’d know them and what they’re into, we’d be able to help.”
As well as selling music, DVDs, and instruments, Mr Gutteridge was also part of the team behind Live at the Bundy, one of the few venues for live music in town.
A few years ago, Leading Edge Music hosted events for local metal bands, with a Melbourne-based headliner, which allowed young people to engage in a hometown live music scene.
“It gave the kids an opportunity to not only see a band, but also get up and play in front of people,” Mr Gutteridge said.
“We had around 120 kids, they’d all help out.”
Another example he gave was renowned Australian musician Russell Morris, whose last album Sharktooth was heavily promoted by Mr Gutteridge, leading to Morris playing a show at Sale’s Kazbah Lounge.
“We sold out of the album, and we sold about 400 tickets to the show, then bigger outlets like JB Hi-Fi picked it up,” Mr Gutteridge said.
“Eventually he won an ARIA, and I think we helped start that.
“We’ve had other guys like Joe Camilleri come down; he’ll be back this year, they really enjoy it.”
Live at the Bundy representative Paul Versteden said that it was unfortunate, and sadly inevitable, that the shop was closing.
“It’ll be sorely missed,” he said.
“People won’t know how much they miss it until it’s gone.
“The in-store sessions led to us meeting Joe Camilleri, which really put us on the map, and that’s not going to happen any more.
“Neville is just so passionate about the music.”
There are concerns about how Live at the Bundy will be able to sell tickets, as most were bought from Leading Edge.
Mr Versteden said Live at the Bundy was looking at other options for selling tickets in town.
“I was the one behind the counter actually selling the tickets, actually telling people to go see the gig,” Mr Gutteridge said.
“You need shops like this to get the artist promotion; that’s going to be missed.”
Mr Gutteridge also has concerns over the future of retail in Sale.
“Darren Chester’s doing a good job of promoting shopping locally, but I don’t know if it gets out to people enough,” he said.
“Other places are suffering; are we destined to just have one or two big chains in town?
“Or do we want the variety and uniqueness of smaller retailers?
“We have to make a conscious effort to shop locally.”
The closure will not affect Leading Edge Computers in Sale, which operates separately.
There will be a party at Leading Edge Music on January 29, with live music from local musicians.
4pm Pedro, a solo act from Traralgon.
4.30pm Brett Glover, leading Sale musician.
5pm The 350s, from the Latrobe Valley.
6pm Dripping Whiskers Reincarnated, locals from a while back with some special guests.
7pm Latrobe Valley All Stars featuring members of the Powerhouse Blues Band.