For most Australians, the HMV brand disappeared from shopping centres and malls a few years ago. The company’s flagship Australian store – in Sydney’s iconic Pitt Street Mall – closed in August 2007. Today, only a handful of stores in Queensland (including Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall outlet – pictured) remain open under the HMV banner, though all are essentially re-branded Sanity stores.
The HMV name is reportedly due to disappear altogether from Australian shores in October this year as part of the original agreement with HMV and its Australian owner Brazin (which also has Sanity and Virgin Music under its retail umbrella).
So we wanted to say ‘goodbye’…
HMV Australia was a great music retailer. It was staffed by people who were passionate about the product, who knew what customers wanted at a store level, and who stocked the shelves accordingly. They weren’t frightened of bringing in imports from all over the world – because they understood that their customers (like them) were music fans, who loved getting their mitts on rarities and different editions of their favourite artists’ music. Heck, we remember forking over (without so much as batting eyelids) almost $60 for the Japanese Towa Tei/Kylie single ‘GBI’ way back when. And we still would.
It’s a style of music retailing that’s all but disappeared these days – and it’s a style that we feel has been missing too long in Australia.
BUT, we’ve heard whispers recently that HMV may be interested in re-establishing itself within the Australian marketplace.
And though nothing’s set in stone – and the whispers ARE apparently just whispers at this stage, it would be a welcome return for a long lost retail friend.
But they’d have to play it smart – as a lot’s changed in the five years since they sold to Brazin.
With JB Hifi now powering along in the music retail landscape, HMV couldn’t overcharge – on anything. They’d have to have a unique offer and cater to those who still want the physical product, including collectors. They’d be mad not to include a digital music/video component and if they follow their UK business model, introduce a range of music-related merchandise including books, calendars, t-shirts, headphones, MP3 players and more.
If HMV does return, we’ll welcome them with open arms. Because besides the ‘ship ’em in, sell ’em out’ models of JB Hifi and Sanity and the boutique independent retail stores sparsely dotted around the country, there ain’t much to get excited about.
(More whispers… Is another music retail name about to disappear from its homes of almost six years?)