Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Last Bargain Hunt-The End Of Hastings Entertainment

In my travels to the Arizona desert, I always managed to spend half of my vacation in Phoenix/Mesa/Tempe/Chandler and then pick three days to head up to the north country.  The old Route 66 road is still in tact, the inner beauty and peacefulness of Crookton Pass and being in Kingman still has that old Route 66 aura around it.  But I also would pass through hot towns like Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City to stop at what was considered to be The Best Buy for small towns Hastings Entertainment.   You couldn't find better entertainment by going to the Kingman Hastings store on a Saturday Night and watching the freak show couple with piercings and tattoos all over their body toting their three kids running up and down the aisle while they push another baby in a cart.  It isn't global warming you have to worry about, but rather the population explosion that continues unchecked.  But that's not about them.

I discovered Hastings, in all places Spokane Washington while dating a woman with snakes for pets. At that time they had four places up there, some old grocery store, one in a strip mall near the woods and one way over East Spokane.  And it turns out that Hastings could rival Wherehouse Music for off the wall bargains, and cut out sold on the cheap.  It turned out that on the next Arizona vacation after breaking up with the snake lady, that Hastings had plenty of them stores in the smaller Arizona towns, that didn't have a Zia's Records nor Rockaway or FYE, which eventually did buy out Wherehouse Music and then they too begin the long decline of closing stores and leaving behind empty buildings.   Hastings did have a store in Iowa, which was in Ames and for a few years I managed to turn the car west on highway 30 and spend a couple hours sorting through plenty of used CDs and taking home a pile.  Every time I think I took home about 10 at the very least.  Hastings would close Hastings down in 2010.  So basically I just planned to do a yearly Arizona getaway and just hit the ones that I knew in Arizona.  Usually, I'd start at Prescott, go up highway 89 to Flagstaff, then down Route 66 country to Kingman, Bullhead City and then Lake Havasu City.  The latter town always seems to have a more varied bunch of CDs some as cheap as a quarter.  I managed to find a John Coltrane/Miles Davis Duet import CD for 49 cents that made a very nice soundtrack to the barren landscape of Route 66 as I drove into California back around 2012 I think.

While Hastings was terrible about promoting new music, they did somehow sold cheaper CDs than the big box stores such as FYE or Best Buy.  I managed to find Nina Simone Sings The Blues and Jeff Beck Wired for 3.99 new.  In Flagstaff in 2009 (or 2010) after the roof collapsed after a major snowfall, Hastings rented out the old K Mart and I managed to score cutouts such as the Complete Velvet Underground Live At Max's Kansas City and Forever Changes by Love for 3.99.  The 2 CD Marshall Crenshaw Best of was bought for 1.99. Wet Willie's hard to find Capricorn CDs was gotten on the cheap too.  The main reason why I went to Hastings, whatever the case may have been somebody would bring a hard to find album or CD and I would come across it.

The glory CD years of the 1990s and early 2000s Hastings was the place to go to, if you were living in a smaller town, it was the only place to go to, but as the world begin to start living more from the computer and at home, Hastings was struggling even back then.  It was a disappointment for me after going to Ames in 2010 and seeing that they closed that store and I haven't been back to Ames since then.   Flagstaff was closed in 2013.  And the closest one was 3 and half hours away in Kirksville Missouri which I did make one final road trip to see what they have in 2014.

In June Hastings announced they were going under chapter 11 bankruptcy and was hoping to find a buyer.  Nobody was interested and this week Hastings announced that they were closing all stores and ended up getting two shady liquidator firms specializing in going out of business sales which announced that as of this week everything was for sale at 30 percent off (pending the usual shady deals of marking of marking prices up so you are thinking you're getting bargains which you are still paying higher costs).  All sales are final, no more new stuff would be forthcoming and no more of Hastings taking in used stuff to sell.

I considered either getting on a plane to Arizona to visit the last four Hastings stores I used to go to, or drive three and half hours to Kirksville but in the end I came to conclude that it was not cost effective and it's not much fun going to a store that's going out of business and knowing that it would be the last time I'd be there.  FYE in Coral Ridge and Southpark Mall comes to mind.

So in the end, I rather much remember the memories of jumping in the car at the Motel 6 in Kingman to drive down to Stockton Hill Road at that Hastings location to hang out till closing time. Or flying through Bullhead City to see the oversized Hastings sign greeting the weary traveler looking for that cheap CD fix.  But in the past 15 years I have seen many stores go by the wayside, each closing more prominent than the others, Wherehouse Music gone, CD Warehouse gone, Tower Records gone, Django Music gone, Borders gone, and FYE on life support but I'm sure I'll be writing their obituary sooner than expected. The only used store that continues to hang in there is Half Priced Books and here's hoping that they will stay around longer.  With the closing of Hastings Entertainment, it is a major death knell, a continuation of the shrinkage of stores that sell used videos or CDs, Books and Magazines that was a social gathering for the young and bored at the local small towns.  They might have gotten a bad knock by the music snobs or preppies who wouldn't be caught dead in there but for myself it was a continuance of discovering new music on the cheap.  At this point in music life, there isn't going to be another store to take its place, unless you're a antique store selling at a higher profit.

But I won't be at any of the liquidation sales going on at the 123 Hastings stores, to which all will be history on Halloween 2016.  This tribute to Hastings from memory will have to do.

I'll miss you Hastings.  Thanks for the music and memories.

(Side note:  Hastings was sold to Draw Another Circle which acquired too many other stores (MOVIE Stop was one of them) and due to their overbuying was cause for the bankruptcy proceedings.)


TAD said...

Well Crabby, I've never been in a Hastings, though I have ordered from them. And your memories are fun. The shocker to me was your prediction about FYE. We've got one of their stores about 10 miles north, and when the girlfriend and I were in there a couple weeks back she found some good really-cheap CD's, and I was impressed with the selection (especially the USED stuff) though I didn't grab anything. So to hear they may be NEXT is disappointing. The Internet has spoiled us all, including me. Are people gonna be able to cope with Just Staying Home? I don't think so. But Ghod knows what might be coming next....
P.S. -- Are the Russians still hitting on your blog? They've been bombing me big-time lately. I've been getting 400 views A DAY for DAYS, and 90 percent of them are from Russia. They must be After Something (Ghod knows WHAT), because I'm not good enough to be THIS popular....

R S Crabb said...

Hi Tad!

I would suggest hitting your local Hastings one more time before they become history. And they have become history now since two liquidators outfits have taken over. Draw The Circle LLC (Whoever they are) bought out Hastings in 2014 and a couple others and then realized they bit off more than they could chew. So they declared bankruptcy and hope to find a buyer. Alas, the only bidder was some outfit in New Jersey with 12 stores and couldn't find the needed cash to keep Hastings going. It's sad because there's really nothing to do when you're living in a small town such as Lake Havasu City or Kingman and the best way was to go to Hastings for a video/movie or grab a coffee or read a book or magazine. People might hate them for giving them pennies on a dollar for trade, but they did serve a purpose. I know if I lived out in your area or Kingman, Hastings would be my second home. Since the nearest one is 3 and half hours away and Half Priced Books are much closer, I will stay close to home. Besides with the going out of business sale, the best bargains are already gone. And FYE is still hanging on by a thread, they're only 2 and half hours away at some mall in Des Monies but they're not high on my places to visit anytime soon. Best ones were out in Mesa where I used to live at.

Yep the Russians are back, Friday I got 613 views. Most be plenty of ghosts out there, they never comment but they do bump up the views. Not sure what they are reading about but if they are God bless them for keeping this blog going.