Richard Rafton, owner of Milkcrate Records holds a signed copy of August Rush from The Carbons. Sydney Morton/Capital News

‘Our sales are hurting’ Kelowna music hub takes hit after big competition moves in

Milkcrate Records still taking a hit after Sunrise Records moved into town 2 years ago

At least four nights a week, Milkcrate Records provides space for local musicians and artists to perform at one of the only remaining early shows in Kelowna.

Record sales have fallen by 40 per cent at the record store since Sunrise Records’ opening two years ago in Orchard Park Mall.

“Our sales are hurting… even though vinyl is still on the increase. We are also being hurt by online shopping. It’s something that everyone needs to be aware of. Even though it may be more convenient we need to be aware of how we are putting these brick and mortar business out of business,” said owner Richard Rafton, with Milkcrate Records.

Milkcrate Records is not just a store in downtown Kelowna, it has grown into a cultural epicentre for the music and arts scene. Rafton said he is hoping to eventually have events in the store seven nights a week.

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The record store sells local musicians’ CDs and records, hosts a lot of their first shows, gives space to literature and poetry university students to perform readings of their work and will soon offer coffee, tea and pie for anyone that wants to stop by and enjoy good music and good company.

“If you think about it Amazon doesn’t do anything for the community, we held a fundraiser and raised almost $900 for charity. You don’t see these big names giving back to the community like that,” said Rafton.”We are here to make a connection and we are here for the long run in Kelowna.”

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Sunrise Records, a Canadian retailer will acquire 100 HMV Stores across the United Kingdom, pulling the company out of bankruptcy. In 2017, they bought Canadian HMV locations and moved into the Orchard Park Mall location two years ago. Now they are renovating a new location in the mall with their own fixtures.

New owner of Underground Music and Records, Ed Martens said that he welcomes the competition because his customers are looking for a different shopping experience and stay away from the mall.

“We take great pride in serving our customers, talking to them and suggesting things they might be interested in,” said Martens.

“We provide a nice place for our customers to come and spend some time. Records are an emotional thing, so often we have people come in and say that was my first record, or I remember listening to it and this was happening. It evokes memories in people. It’s very hard to find people in a bad mood in a record store.”

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Ed Martens, owner of Underground Records holds a few of his favourite records available in the store. Tessa Oljaca/Capital News

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