Ella Guru calls it quits
Last week, Atlanta found out it's losing yet another mom-and-pop record store when Ella Guru owner Don Radcliffe announced he's closing up shop at the end of February.
Last week, Atlanta found out it's losing yet another mom-and-pop record store when Ella Guru owner Don Radcliffe announced he's closing up shop at the end of February. "I didn't quite make it 10 years," Radcliffe offers with an awe-shucks smirk.
The news of Ella Guru's demise seemed all the more poignant as it arrived the same week Bruce Springsteen blathered on in the New York Times that he made a mistake by selling his new greatest hits CD exclusively through Wal-Mart. But Radcliffe laughs it off, saying that big-box retailers aren't to blame as much as the larger cultural shift in how music reaches listeners – i.e., the Internet.
"People just don't consume music the way they used to," he says. "I love the brick and mortar thing. I got into this business so I could have one-on-one interactions with customers, but if I don't have enough customers, what's the point of keeping a retail store open?"
Radcliffe moved Ella Guru to its current location (280 Elizabeth St.) on Labor Day weekend in September 2007, after spending nine years in the Toco Hills shopping center. He subleased the space from neighboring ATL Scooters. But shortly after moving in, the scooter store went out of business and foot traffic diminished.
When he looked into renegotiating his lease, the numbers just didn't add up. "I'm here six days a week," he says. "If we're not going to make much dough here, I can do it elsewhere without the overhead."
For the foreseeable future, Radcliffe will keep the Ella Guru domain name and continue selling LPs and CDs at record shows and via the Internet. Though the change in his business model will allow him more time to spend with his family and the chance to work from home, closing the store is a bittersweet adjustment. "Selling stuff online does nothing for me," he says. "It's not a very personal way of discovering music. It's just commerce... . But at this point, I wouldn't mind having a little commerce!"