Wednesday, June 19, 2019

BK Music To Close Doors June 20, 2019

Mgr Renato Walthew and Bill Kennedy
It’s the end of an era for some of us as BK Music closes its doors for good on June 20th. The independent record/CD/DVD store has been a mainstay for the Richmond music community for many years, first at its Midlothian Turnpike location and lately in the Stratford Hills Shopping Center.
Proprietor Bill Kennedy and his wife Gina have decided that it was time to retire and to start a new chapter in their lives. I can only wish them well as they move on to their next adventures.
For me personally, BK Music has been a haven for me as I search for older titles that I need in order to produce Time For The Blues. But it goes back much further than that, growing up as a music-obsessed kid, I spent many hours in various record stores – back in the day when there WERE various record stores – checking out new releases, older releases of favorite artists, and generally just reading liner notes and seeing where that would take me.
While I was rarely a top-40 guy, I did listen to what was on the radio and eventually discovered the eclectic stations like WGOE that played all kinds of music and exposed me to a more radical view of what was available. I had to find out more about these different artists, and that inevitably led me back to the record stores.
They even had great names: Gary’s, Harmony Hut, The Gramophone, Peaches. They all had their styles – some were like pristine department stores, others more like head shops complete with burning incense and strange paraphernalia at the counters. I loved them all.
I discovered BK Music because of their old television ads of people going on and on about their favorite artists. I specifically remember one person who loved KISS and another who loved The Grateful Dead, but I believe there were others. Shortly after those commercials started airing, I stopped in to see what they had and discovered well stocked shelves and friendly employees that were enthusiastic about a variety of styles and artists.
Even other customers got into the act, asking about what I was listening to and telling me about what they had discovered. It was like a great well-stocked bar where everyone knew one another but could occasionally slip into their own world for a while without any outside demands.
It was kind of heavenly…
When Henry and I started producing Time For The Blues in 2006, we were woefully short on material. The station had very few quality blues albums for us to use, and pretty much nothing from newer artists. We dipped into our own personal collections for many of those early shows, and knew that if we were to survive, we would need a lot more.
BK Music became my go-to place to fill in some of those gaps. Not only did they stock new artists, but they also had a deep pool of blues from which to pull. And pull we did. Over the next several months, my collection more than tripled as the vast majority of my paycheck went to BK every month. Fortunately, Mrs. Professor understood as we stretched our already thin budget a little further.
Even after getting through that initial crisis, I continued to haunt BK Music. I was always on the hunt for something new and unusual. I rarely came away empty handed, and many times I came away extremely happy. With their collection of used CDs, I was able to discover artists I might not otherwise have encountered, and with their bargain titles, I was even able to produce entire shows of quality music for almost no cost.
Being thrifty appeals tremendously to my Scottish heart and soul.
Now it’s time for owners Bill and Gina Kennedy to retire from the retail world. Plans include helping out their son with his business in Colorado. Bill and Gina plan to stay in Richmond, although several trips west are already being planned.
The rest of the staff will continue to work closing up the store as they must vacate by June 30 and will no doubt find new adventures of their own.
I know I will miss the place very much. It was an oasis for me and many other music lovers. I knew I could always count on good musical advice from the staff, and well, it just felt like home. Mom and Pop stores built America, and I’m afraid we are losing so many of them now to chain stores and online shopping. Many of my favorite places, bookstores, record stores, and even video stores are nearly extinct.
I have nothing against online shopping, it’s often the only way I can find some obscure material, but I will always prefer the human experience to click and submit. BK Music truly defined the human experience. Good luck to Bill and Gina, and to all of the staff of the store, and thank you for welcoming me, and all the others into your hearts.

1 comment:

  1. It's been our pleasure getting to know you John. Thanks so much for all you've done for us too! Bill & Gina and staff.