Down Home to Leave Fourth Street

By Judith Scherr
Friday June 20, 2008 - 05:41:00 PM

After only 11 months in Berkeley, Down Home Music is moving out of its Fourth Street store. 

The move is not reflective of the economic health on Fourth Street, where a second Crate and Barrel store is about to set up shop. It has more to do with the business of selling new CDs in a brick and mortar location rather than downloading them or buying them on the Internet, according to Dave Fogarty, economic development manager with the city of Berkeley’s  

John McCord, who manages the 32-year-old El Cerrito Down Home store, which will remain open, said they had expected that the Fourth Street store would do at least as well as Hear, the Starbucks-owned CD store that was previously located in the same space.  

“We had a good holiday season,” McCord said, adding that too many people come to browse rather than buy.  

“The economy has a lot to do with it—CD sales are down everywhere,” McCord said. “It’s hard to compete with the Internet.” 

And, Fogarty said, stores like Down Home have to compete with giants such as Wal Mart that do special deals with the record companies—and sometimes exclusive deals—and undercut the smaller stores. 

McCord said Down Home tried a slightly different mix of music on Fourth Street. “We tried to tailor it to the clientele down there,” he said, making available more Latin, jazz, and pop CDs and less country music than at the El Cerrito store. 

The move “has left us with debts,” McCord said. However, Down Home founder and owner Chris Strachwitz, also proprietor of the folk record label Arhoolie Records, is dedicated to keeping the El Cerrito store open, McCord said. 

“There’s a lot of good music out there,” he said. 

Fogarty told the Planet that Fourth Street is “trucking along,” with sales tax indicating growth every quarter, with the exception of the fourth quarter of 2007 (the last quarter the city has records for), which he attributes to the difficulties experienced by Cody’s, which left Fourth Street and relocated downtown in March. 

A second Crate and Barrel, known as CB2 will move into the old Cody’s on Fourth Street location, with offerings such as furniture. The Crate and Barrel outlet will continue at its location across the street, Fogarty said.