At Aboveground Records these days it’s all about hanging out.
“This week isn’t about commerce, it’s about friendship,” record store owner Mike Barnes said on Sunday afternoon. “The biggest thing that’s come out of Aboveground is the bonds we’ve made.”
On Saturday, after 19 years in business, Aboverground Records will close its doors.
Over the years Mr. Barnes has welcomed countless customers to his store, and encouraged music lovers of all genres. From rock and blues to hiphop and experimental, there’s no shortage of random gems.
There is no large party planned for Saturday. Instead Mr. Barnes is calling it “loiter day.” Musicians are welcome to perform, though there are no set times, and performers should be amiable to customers moving around the stacks of records, CDs, DVDs and even some cassette tapes. Baked goods and soft drinks will be served.
“You don’t know what you’re going to get,” Mr. Barnes said. “People could be playing back here or over there. There will be a hodgepodge of local celebrities, international celebrities. Anything could happen.”
Maybe even a surprise or two, he added.
Down the road, Mr. Barnes is eying a “big celebration of all things Aboveground.” For now, though, Saturday’s celebration will have to do until the big bash.
After closing, the remaining CDs will be sold to an Amazon vendor, but Mr. Barnes plans to hold on to the albums created by Island musicians. The records will be saved in his sister’s bedroom at their mother’s house.
“Her room is exactly the same as it was in 1989,” he said, smiling. The room upstairs will never drop below 55 degrees either, good for storage. “I can bring it back anytime if needed.”
Never say never, he said.
“I’ll keep it as a hobby rather than a profession, with maybe the chance of someday starting Aboveground again in the closet of somebody else’s store. The door is not closed forever, but it’s certainly not planned. It’s a nice daydream to have. Someday we could have a used record store again, but it’s down the line.”
With the rain coming down hard on Sunday afternoon, Mr. Barnes sat on his usual perch behind the counter. A customer walked in inquiring if the rumors were true.
“I’ve been here once a year to make sure you’re still here,” he said. “Are you gone or just talking about moving?”
“Oh, we’re gone,” Mr. Barnes replied. “You never know what the future might hold. I’ve been looking at that parking lot for 19 years, and it’s been a great 19 years. My hand was not forced, it’s just time.”
“Well, we’ll have to come in and bring you something, best of luck to you,” the customer said.
“Thanks for all the years of support,” said Mr. Barnes.
Aboveground Records is open every day this week from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.