Liquidations: Say Goodbye To The Virgin Megastore

Just when we thought that we were done with liquidations for awhile — Virgin decided to close and liquidate all their US stores.

Oddly, the AP story suggests that the company thinks they can get more rent from new tenants. Really? That’s one we haven’t heard lately.

The joint venture of Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust bought the U.S. chain in 2007, and with sales slowing, the companies figured they can make more money by simply turning the properties over to new tenants, who will likely pay much higher rents than the level locked in for many of the stores in multiyear leases.

Has the time come for a Times Square Walmart?

All Virgin Megastores in US to close by summer [AP]
(Photo:cmorran123)

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  1. Sidecutter says:

    What can I say? Fools…

  2. Radi0logy says:

    Cue the “Virgin Megastore liquidation’s suck!!” threads, replete with man-on-the-street interviews, damning photographs, shockingly busy retail environments, and tales of customer service failure!

    Well i guess they arent big enough for all that, but heres to hoping!

    • ceilingFANBOY says:

      @Radi0logy: I’m sure no one will notice at the one at Time’s Square because it will be a bunch of tourists that don’t know any better that are going to buy up all the crap, not people running in to bargain hunt the liquidation sales.

  3. jklug80 says:

    Where will we get our virgins now?!?!

  4. Courteous_Gentleman says:

    Looks like America just lost it’s Virginity.

  5. CrazyMann says:

    I vote for a Apple Store at Times Square!

  6. Segador says:

    I wonder when, if ever, America will return to it’s mid-80s heyday of “Ridiculously overpriced stores that you only shop in to hang out with other coke-nosed rich people” like Virgin and FAO Schwarz. I’m looking at you next, Apple stores.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Segador: Actually, Apple stores are pretty reasonably priced depending on what you want. They’re very straightforward. You want an iMac, you go to an Apple store and know exactly what you are getting. Everything is priced accordingly on the website and in the store, generally. I don’t look at the retail Apple stores as being overpriced when you have to know what you’re getting into when you walk into the store.

      • Segador says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Right. People know what they’re getting when they walk into FAO Schwarz, too (a $78 Nerf gun). I mean “ridiculously overpriced” in more general terms.

        • harlock_JDS says:

          @Segador: they don’t charge any more for apple stuff than anywhere else.

          Now apples in general are (arguably) overpriced but the stores aren’t.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Segador: Hey! That’s blatantly inaccurate and totally unfair.
      Middle-class people do coke, too.

    • ludwigk says:

      @Segador: I work in SF, near enough to market street that I pass by the ‘high end’ retail districts on my way to lunch some times. The ‘ridiculously overpriced’ are mostly still in effect with only a few recent losses. The FAO Schwartz went out of business I think this year, and with Virgin, that makes two high profile losses in a short period of time. At least we still have the 7 story tall Macy’s, and Nieman Marcus to splurge at.

      Brookstone’s doing this weird thing where they’ll rent random retail spaces for the holiday months, set up shop like bedouins with piles of products all on the floors, and no permanent fixtures, then quickly flee the areas after the prime shopping seasons. Maybe a new model for peddlers of over-priced crap?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @ludwigk: I spent a good deal of time in the market street Virgin store. I got great deals on DVDs too.

      • Segador says:

        @ludwigk: Yeah- I lived for a month in a hotel right off Union Square. I always wondered who was shopping there.

      • West Coast Secessionist says:

        @ludwigk: Oh let me guess, did Brookstone rent the old Discovery Channel Store space in Metreon this year? You know, the space right in front on Mission. It is usually a Halloween store in October, so it seems a prime target for a temporary store for Christmas.

  7. TerribleDecade says:

    No! I don’t want a Walmart in NYC! Target’s already bad enough. With VM gone, there’ll be a big gaping hole in Union Square and Times.

    • cubsd says:

      @TerribleDecade: There’s no Target in Times Square, that’s just a huge ad for Target on the side of a building. I was there in Sept, and I actually could have used a Target. Unless they opened one since then, there isn’t a Target in Manhatten, you have to go to another borough.

  8. eddie9999 says:

    Someone should stick a Dollar General or Family Dollar in it – given the current economic climate I’m sure it would do well and if I could buy Treet on one of the most iconic retail strips in the country, I’d be a very happy person.

  9. runchadrun says:

    I used to shop at the Virgin on Sunset all the time after they first opened. They had a great selection and a huge classical department and all employees were knowledgeable. Even though their prices weren’t that great I still shopped there because you could find stuff no one else carried. I had a similar impression of the San Francisco store the few times I went there. And I spent about 3 hours in the London store when I was there in 1997! Then I started ordering those obscure titles online so I really didn’t need to shop at Virgin anymore.

    About a year ago I went into the store at Hollywood and Highland. I walked through it wondering where the second floor was since they had so few CDs on sale. Turns out there wasn’t a second floor and they were just a smaller and poorly-stocked version of Tower.

    I miss the 1995 version of Virgin but I won’t miss the 2008 version.

    • 67alecto says:

      @runchadrun: The one on Sunset was awesome. I’d stop in when we did our usual Hollywood run (walk along Sunset, lunch at Spaghetti Factory, movie at The Arclight, etc).

    • Ubik2501 says:

      @runchadrun: The Chicago store shut down a few years ago, but I remember it being a decent place back in 2000. Great selections on everything, staff that at least moderately knew their stuff, and mid-range prices. Before the internet became the one-stop shopping emporium it is now, the VM in Chicago was the only place I was able to find some particularly rare things I wanted (e.g. the album “Soup” by Bola, which was on an extremely limited print run from Skam at the time and is an amazing album). I have fond memories of it from back in the day, but I’m not surprised that it degenerated into a shambling Sam Goody/Tower clone.

      I have to admit, the “let’s get tenants at higher rents!” proposition is completely hilarious in today’s market. They’re just going to hurt themselves worse with that plan.

    • runchadrun says:

      @runchadrun: Commenting on my own post…

      The Burbank store was also great for all things music and movies, though the staff wasn’t as good as the Sunset store. It was impossible to find parking (the In-N-Out in the parking lot didn’t help either) but it was worth it. We would have dinner at CPK, see a movie, then go to B&N or Virgin to do some shopping.

      A few years ago the roof collapsed during a rain storm and it never reopened. It’s now a Loehmann’s.

    • Heath Doolin says:

      @runchadrun:

      Seriously, get yourself over to Amoeba Records. Amazing selection, HUGE inventory of everything including a classical selection that dwarfs Virgins, and christ, you can spend hours there and find yourself going in for classical and coming out with the Best of Muddy Waters and 4 Nunsploitation films (Their dvd/video selection is built by dvd lovers for dvd lovers).

      Wish I lived close I would totally work there.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @runchadrun: I used to “shop” at the Virgin on sunset too…until the cops caught her in a sting operation :(

  10. harlock_JDS says:

    man is anything going to be left in Union Square? First the CC shuts down and now the Virgin Megastore?

    • Stickarm says:

      @harlock_JDS: Maybe Amazon will snatch up Barnes & Noble’s building in order to open a distribution center in Manhattan.

    • nycaviation says:

      I’m thinking Walmart could take over both spaces and combine them. Unfortunately, the incredible irony of a Walmart opening in UNION Square could cause the earth to implode.

  11. Mistrez_Mish says:

    Huh… I thought that it was only the Times Square location that was closing or at least that’s what their Village Voice ad said last week…

    I’m not sure about theTimes Square Virgin Megastore, but the one in Union Square is almost always packed, even nowadays. Too bad…

  12. redskull says:

    Sorry for the employees, but as there aren’t any Virgin stores within 500 miles of me, my life will remain unchanged.

  13. deleteboy says:

    Virgin MegaStore has always been a Mega Disappointment – good for browsing – more of a ‘see and be seen’ kind of store – we’ve got Amoebas here in SF for the discerning purchasers….

  14. ryaninc says:

    There’s a pretty big Virgin store at Downtown Disney here in Orlando. I assume that one will be closing as well? Seriously sucks for the employees, that’s never cool.

    • Fatty Shcock says:

      @ryaninc: And I’m going down to Disney this spring. Hopefully it’ll still be open at that time, cause I always go there to get new tunes. Maybe I’ll be lucky and find a deal there.

  15. eirrom says:

    Where am I going to buy my $17.99 new releases? I guess Borders is still open. No surprise in this news.

  16. MyPetFly says:

    Personally, the closing of Virgin Megastores doesn’t bother me. I buy all my virgins in bulk at Costco.

  17. radiochief says:

    I can’t see how Virgin would survive if Tower Records died first. They were hitting for the same demographic– large urban centers or tourista areas…

    Perhaps if they had a strong web presence, so you could have searched their inventories live? Hell, for all I know maybe they did…

    What I do know is that, if I am looking for a smaller selection at high prices– I can conveniently go to my local mall record store for that.

    • ChristopherDavis says:

      @radiochief: Amusingly enough, Tower had a flagship store on the corner of Newbury St and Mass Ave in Boston for many years, then didn’t renew their lease and closed up shop. Virgin took over the space, and their store was there for a while until it closed. Now the space is a Best Buy.

      I still just go a few doors down to the original Newbury Comics location instead.

  18. radiochief says:

    But thank God, we have the internet and Newbury Comics!

  19. Trai_Dep says:

    Aww, I actually LIKE the Virgin Megastores. Along with Amoeba Records, they were the only music brick-n-mortars that I visit.
    A sad day, indeed.

  20. cmdrsass says:

    This only reminds me of how much I miss Tower Records. I could wander that store for hours.

  21. picardia says:

    We just got a Times Square Walgreens. Wal-Mart can suck it.

  22. bigdirty says:

    I’ll miss the Virgins. They were the bees knees when they opened in the mid-90s, but then the internet killed the whole looking for something rare. The laserdisc clearance of the late 90s was an especially fond memory, as it bolstered my collection exponentially for next to nothing.

    I’ll still hit up the Princeton Record Exchange (Tulane St, Downtown Princeton) or Amoeba Hollywood when I’m in either town.

  23. J Daniel Ramirez says:

    It’s a shame they are closing. I visited the San Francisco one a lot to browse but only bought DVDs the week they came out since they were on sale. I don’t think I ever bought a CD from there.

    I also visited the Times Square store when I was in New York just to check it out and ended up buying a book.

  24. Dillenger69 says:

    I’ve never been to one … The closest one to me is either L.A. or Denver. There are only six of them in the whole country. Why is this a big deal?

  25. maxx22 says:

    I was in the Times Square store two weeks ago and before the closing announcement.

    Classical CD’s (the few in stock) were $18.99 or $19.99 – don’t remember which. Popular CD’s were similarly priced.

    Couple these prices with the screaming music, the beeping alarm at the door and the escalator that didn’t work and it is easy to see why no adult would want to enter this place.

    So, adults buy their CD’s on Amazon or Costco; kids download their music; not much left for Virgin.

    It was clear just looking around that this store wasn’t going to be around much longer.

  26. annab says:

    The NY Times reported in January that Forever 21 will be going in to the Times Square location. [www.nytimes.com]

  27. JayDeEm says:

    They were cool stores, but I have not been into one in years. Last time I was there I believe they were still selling movies on LaserDisc. This was at the Costa Mesa/Newport store.

  28. Anonymous says:

    There hasn’t been a reason to visit a cd store for a couple of years. Who needs a cd when you can store your entire collection on a USB stick and your stereo system has been replaced by a laptop?

    My vinyl collection has been in storage for years, then my 8-tracks had to be thrown out, then my cassette collection. Now I have a hazardous waste problem getting shed of all the cds I’ve accumulated.

    I do really miss the pretty covers on the LP’s, tho.

  29. vladthepaler says:

    Chicago’s closed a long time ago, I thought the company folded around the same time as Tower Records. Virgin was always crazy expensive, surprised they could stay in business as long as they did.

  30. nevets68 says:

    I used to love the tower record store in Paramus.
    Not for the music (as what i listen nobody carries)…but the magazine section was awesome.

    Zines galore !

  31. cynicgrl says:

    They’re overpriced anyway, so I never bought anything there. Still, the one in Union Square was a good place to duck into to get out of bad weather for a while.

  32. jpdanzig says:

    I went in the Union Square Virgin today to see if there were any signs of a closing sale — no such luck.

    I had heard they were closing by Spring, but apparently the shutdown has been postponed until Summer…

  33. jstonemo says:

    Wow, I didn’t know there were still brick ‘n mortar music stores. Kinda like people who still go to Blockbuster to rent movies. I won’t be surprised when my 3 year old grows up and ask if we really used CDs in the old days.

  34. kwsventures says:

    Another one bites the dust. But failure is good. Now, some other strong company can pick up the slack. Saving losers with bailouts never cleans out those that should be out of business.

  35. Kitteridge says:

    One other nice thing the Virgin store did in Union Square was host intimate live performances by bands looking to get a leg up or to promote their latest record. That’s another loss to the community.

  36. jacques says:

    The last time I was in a Virgin Store was in Chicago, when they were still selling MiniDisks. I think I picked up an Aerosmith minidisk and a Chick Corea as well.

  37. Anonymous says:

    honestly, this could make me cry… i worked for virgin megastore here in the UK whilst I was at uni and loved it. Everything about it from learning about new music, the instore radio and feeling part of the virgin family (yes it’s corporate but you know what it was fun!) and i’m really sad to see the end of the stores. I always wanted to visit the VM at Times Sq and am glad I got to do this (and union square SF) last year; they seemed to do well i thought…

    I haven’t bought music from a store for a long time but still buy video games, sheet music and books. Especially band tees so I am suprised VM is on its way out

    Sad days…

  38. BiZarRroBALlmeR says:

    virgins are hard to find as it is these days *sigh*

  39. David Mobley says:

    word in SF is that Forever21 is very much willing to pay for a spot on the new fashion street where Virgin is right now. Apparently market rate is around 3-4x what Virgin has been paying, and business are very much eager to open up on Market in SF. Diesel is opening a big store to be down the street from Gap in the former CompUSA building. Forever 21 wants to compete on the same level, so they’re going to push out music and install more fashion.

    Even the Rite Aid is going to leave Market and presumably something else fashion related is going to jump in its place and pay a lot more for rent in the same location.

    The margins on music are pretty slim. There’s really no point in a huge store with MSRP priced music to exist when they could get a buttload more in rent from profitable industries instead.

  40. jeebussez says:

    I miss tower records :(

    Both of these stores were my stomping grounds back in middle school and high school. Le sigh.

  41. Adam2010 says:

    I wonder what they are going to do with that amazing neon sign in times square? I wonder if they’ll sell it to me, I’d put it in my front yard.

  42. Harry Pujols says:

    Good luck getting good rent money in Union Square, now that Circuit City left a vacancy in the same block!