Downtown Champaign's Record Swap may soon play its swan song

Downtown Champaign's Record Swap may soon play its swan song

CHAMPAIGN — Four decades after Record Swap opened in Champaign-Urbana, the store may be closing this summer if owner Bob Diener doesn't find a new location.

His rent would have gone up 50 percent in July, Diener said, so he declined to sign a new lease at his building on the east edge of downtown Champaign.

"It's our 40th year in business," he said. "We're more than likely going out of business, so I don't care about the anniversary. It's sad."

The store, which sells vinyl records, CDs and DVDs, has been at its latest location at 114 E. University Ave., for 12 years.

Diener started the business with his brother in Chicago Heights in 1977, and also once had a shop in Valparaiso, Ind. Both of those locations later closed.

His rent in Champaign is currently just over $1,000 a month, he said, and the increase would have been unaffordable for him.

Building owner Mike Hosier said he offered Diener a new lease, increasing his rent to $1,250. The renewal was offered as a triple net lease, which would have also made Diener newly responsible for some of the expenses of the building — costs Hosier estimated would have added another $250 a month for Record Swap.

"He was not happy with what I offered him, even though it was still probably about one-third of what market rate is in that area," Hosier said.

This isn't Hosier's only building on that segment of East University Avenue.

Others he owns include 112 E. University, where Leonards Pawn Shop is; 125 E. University, which houses Z Haircutting Studio & Spa; and 119 E. University, home of Habitat for Humanity's ReStore.

Ron Bryant, who owns the pawn shop, said Hosier wants to renovate his building, so he also plans to relocate to avoid higher rent and downtime for his business. He'll be moving to 48 E. Springfield Ave., C, at the end of May or June 1, he said.

After 27 years at the same location, Bryant said, he'd rather not move, but Hosier gave him time to find a new location.

"I would rather stay here 10 more years and retire," he said. "But I guess he thinks he can get a lot more rent."

Hosier said he has plans to renovate both 112 and 114 E. University when they become vacant.

Diener contended that his building hasn't been properly maintained. His shop sustained two floods early last year when water leaked down from an upper-story apartment.

Damages in one flood amounted to about $300, but the second flood racked up about $13,000 worth of damages, including losses to his products, he said.

Diener said he's been looking for another location for his shop, but he wasn't optimistic. If he does close, he said, he may well continue his business with all-online sales.

Meanwhile, he's making plans for Record Store Day — an event for independent record sellers across the country that's coming up this Saturday.

Discounts on new and used merchandise will be available Friday through Sunday this weekend. Record Store Day merchandise won't be available until the store opens at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Diener said he also plans to open his back room starting Saturday and keep that open for the store's remaining time at its current spot. He plans to make available items he's collected over four decades in Champaign-Urbana, among them vintage T-shirts, stereo equipment, vintage posters and music books, he said.

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