Record and Tape Traders in Towson to close after 40 years

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After 40 years in business, Record and Tape Traders in Towson, the last location of a once-robust local chain, will close, according to a post on the store’s Facebook page.

Liquidation of remaining records, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays and other merchandise begins today, and the store will remain open through Christmas.

“We would like to thank our customers for their loyalty over the years and we look forward to seeing you over the next few weeks,” the post said. “Please come visit us and help us say farewell.”

An employee at the Towson shop referred Baltimore Fishbowl to the store’s Albany, New York-based corporate owner, Trans World Entertainment, for comment. Steve Georghakis, the company’s chief information officer, did not immediately return a voicemail.

Trans World Entertainment also counts the record store chain FYE and the online marketplace etailz among its holdings, as well as several other independent record stores and the ’90s kid mall relics Sam Goody and Suncoast.

Founded in 1977 out of a Towson home, Record and Tape Traders eventually grew to have eight other locations, including Charles Village, Frederick, Bel Air, Catonsville, Westminster and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, The Sun reported in 2009.

One by one, they have closed. The above Sun story reported on the shuttering of the Catonsville location on Frederick Road, a stretch once known as “Music City, Maryland” for its collection of instrument shops and record stores.

In 2007, the original founders, Kevin Stander and Steven Smolen, sold eight of nine locations to a Georgia company called Value Music, The Sun reported at the time. Locations in Owings Mills, Annapolis and Charles Village had closed that year, and the story indicates the Bel Air location was scheduled to meet a similar fate at that time.

Even then, the tide of digital music that has engulfed many other brick-and-mortar retailers selling records was looming.

“The business has been getting a lot [more] Internet-based, iPod-based,” Stander said at the time, while noting Record and Tape Traders was still profitable thanks to the sale of movies and other merchandise.

A posting in the music industry publication Billboard indicates Trans World Entertainment acquired Value Music in 2010 in bankruptcy court.

Through it all, the Towson store stubbornly persisted for another eight years, a relic of a bygone era and a welcome outpost for music fans. Even as people migrated online tried to adapt with the times, stocking more vinyl as the medium made a resurgence.

“We were so proud to be your music and movie location for as long as we could,” the post concluded. “That’s the way she goes…”

Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore Business Journal, b and others. Prior to joining Baltimore Fishbowl, he was an editor at City Paper from 2012 to 2017. He can be reached at [email protected]
Brandon Weigel


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