The Day the Music Moved

The Day the Music Moved

Penny Lane Records closing shop for move to virtual store in Upland

By Sara Cardine 03/22/2012

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After nearly three decades of slinging discs and cassettes for and with Pasadena music enthusiasts, Penny Lane Records will close its last remaining retail store after the first week in April in preparation for a move to Upland. 


Claiming escalating rental and utilities costs, owner and co-founder Steve Bicksler announced the store would reopen as a warehouse with a sort of “virtual store,” where customers could browse LP, CD and DVD titles online. Additionally, the space would open to shoppers on a limited basis, one day each week. 


“We love doing this, and we’re not closing — we’re just changing,” Bicksler said.


The decision to leave Pasadena was a sad one, he added. Since opening for business in 1985, Penny Lane has opened in 13 locations. The Pasadena store, at 1661 E. Colorado Blvd., is the last remaining location.


Rent and utilities for the 2,300-square-foot retail space average about $6,000 a month. Add to that the cost of maintaining a payroll, a nationwide decline in music sales and accounting for the loss of  more valuable LPs regularly pilfered by customers, and you have an untenable business model, he says. 


“Rent in Pasadena, at least where we are, it’s a bit high for a business such as this to afford,” he added. “And a part of the problem we had here was theft. I wouldn’t say that’s a reason for our closing, but it contributes to our financial situation.”

The new space in Upland, by contrast, is a lot cheaper and will allow Penny Lane to continue to aggressively buy and sell music, movies, games and iPods to a wider audience in a more secure environment. 


“We can focus not only on our Pasadena customers and local customers, but pretty much the world,” Bicksler said.

Penny Lane also plans to increase its presence in the record swap meet circuit with upcoming appearances at Pasadena City College’s flea market and the Buena Park Swap Meet.


Though the storeowner feels the change in business model and location will be largely positive, he still holds out hope of finding a donor or some way to stay put in a town he’s come to love and think of as a home in the past 27 years. 


If a philanthropist wishing to prevent the closure were to offer help with rent money, Penny Lane would welcome the conversation, Bicksler joked in a written statement before writing, “(Just kidding.) (No, we’re not kidding.)”


“We have loved being here,” he added Monday. “This is one of my favorite cities in all of LA. We just want people to keep in touch with us.”


For more information on Penny Lane, including updates on the move, visit or call (626) 535-0949.


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Sad but not surprising. I fondly remember capping off nights of drinking in old town shopping for used discs at penny lane. After they moved, I became a weekend morning shopper. Itunes has pretty much made record stores obsolete, even cool ones like Penny Lane. Good Luck and Thanks!

posted by pusdpop on 3/29/12 @ 11:50 a.m.
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