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Thank you for the music

Tuesday, 1st October, 2013

Coles and online downloads have killed off GB Records, according to owner Gary Bowden who is closing down. Coles and online downloads have killed off GB Records, according to owner Gary Bowden who is closing down.

By Kurtis J Eichler

As GB Records owner Gary Bowden prepares to shut up shop, he’s taken a parting swipe at the major retailer looking to make a mark on Broken Hill’s retail scene.

Mr Bowden is closing his store on December 8 after 30 years trading music. But yesterday he fired a parting shot at Coles and its $35 million Broken Hill Village development.

He says Broken Hill is highly dependent on welfare and has a high population of pensioners, meaning less money is being generated in the city, so Coles will only be robbing stores in Argent Street of vital dollars.

“When they open the new shopping centre, the money will thin out even more,” the 60-year-old former North Mine worker said.

“There’s no real money flow here. It will cause a lot of issues for retailers in town.

“People have only got so much money to spread around.”

It’s one of the reasons - others being the rapidly growing iTunes market, music piracy and shifting technology - the music aficionado has decided to call it quits.

“It’s massive. The floor space is incredible.”

Mr Bowden has started a pre-closing down sale because, as he says bluntly, he can’t sell it.

“I’d be lucky to have two or three people in this day and age,” he says.

When he opened the Oxide Street store on December 8, 1983; people were buying LP records or cassette tapes in droves.

The internet wasn’t hogging people’s attention and iPads and iPhones weren’t available. 

He says people bought music or watched movies at the drive-in to get their entertainment fix.

“There are so many things to compete with now,” he says. “It’s become so broad and more and more people are getting comfortable with the internet.”

The job is demanding. Mr Bowden has only had three holidays in 30 years and has been without a break for eight years while he’s been running it solo.

“I need some time for me. There’s no lunch breaks, no toilet breaks and you are just strapped behind the counter.

“I’m not sad because I’ve had a long run. I’ve had my fun here.”

Shoppers are devastated. Since announcing plans to close on social media, Mr Bowden has received a torrent of support.

He said those who still come in are “devastated”.

“I’ve had people crying,” he says. “It’s so traumatic.”

With the closure of the independent store comes the loss of Mr Bowden’s encyclopaedic knowledge of music.

Many Broken Hill exports living across the country still source their albums from him because they value his hunger to chase products.

“It’s not a chore.”

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