The future of beloved Brisbane indie record store Rockinghorse Records is on shaky ground, after owner Warwick Vere announced a half price sale in a last ditch bid to keep the iconic store open. High rents in Brisbane’s CBD, the effects of recent floods on retail trading in Queensland and the neverending juggernaught that is digital downloading have made the stores future uncertain to say the least.
Vere says “We have been looking around for another (suitable) site for a year but there is nothing that was realistic and you would have to make a giant leap of faith to sign a three-year lease in these conditions. Vinyl sales are very strong and if we could turn every CD we had into a vinyl record then we would be right. It’s a pity it looks like we can’t continue but the sums don’t add up.”
Vere opened the store back in 1975, and has seen the store stock records and CDs by a who’s who of Brisbane indie bands, from legendary punks The Saints through to The Go Betweens, Regurgitator to Violent Soho and The Gin Club to DZ Deathrays. Although he’s keeping his options open, he concedes he may soon before forced to close. “Downloading, file-sharing and basically everyone imagining they are getting a better deal online all present problems for a shop like this,” he says.
“Back in January when (Harvey Norman chairman) Gerry Harvey started squawking about retail competition from online, we saw a noticeable spike in our sales on Amazon from Australia even though people were paying 20 per cent more for our CDs from Amazon. In fact the prices in our store were very keen but it’s difficult to fight the perception that online is cheaper.”