SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Amoeba Records, the venerable music shop that started in Berkeley in 1990 before expanding to locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles, has launched an online fundraising campaign to save the stores amid the forced closure during the coronavirus stay-at-home order.
In the nearly 30 years since opening the Berkeley store on Telegraph Avenue in the summer of 1990, Amoeba Records has become one of the most famed independent music retailers in the world. The popularity and success of the East Bay location allowed owners Marc Weinstein and Dave Prinz to open additional locations on Haight Street in San Francisco in 1997 and its biggest store yet on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles in 2001.
The stores have become globally renowned destinations for record collectors and music enthusiasts, regularly earning mention on published lists of the best record shops on the planet in addition to providing a marquee place for artists to hold live shows, signings and in-store appearances to promote new music.
Weinstein created the GoFundMe page on April 20 to raise money to keep the business alive so it can continue to support the some 400 people employed at the three stores by covering their health benefits during the closure.
“We have weathered many storms-911, recessions, the Internet, downloading and streaming. But we don’t know that we can weather the COVID-19 storm. All three of our stores have been closed since mid-March and must remain closed indefinitely,” a statement attributed to Weinstein and Prinz on the GoFundMe page read. “With no way to generate income, our savings are running out, with bills and rent coming due, and with a primary commitment to our staff, who we are trying to keep as healthy and financially sound as possible.”
The GoFundMe campaign has a stated goal $400,000 and had already raised over $77,000 by Tuesday afternoon. In addition to the hardship caused by the coronavirus close, Weinstein said in an interview with Variety that the store is in the midst of planning out relocation from its iconic Sunset Boulevard address to a new spot on Hollywood Boulevard near Argyle this fall. That already tricky process has been further complicated by the stay-at-home order.
“We’d like to reassure you that we’re doing everything we can to keep Amoeba going, and to position ourselves to play a vital role in what is for now a very uncertain future,” the statement on the GoFundMe page read. “We’re exploring every possible means of support, including federal and local grants and loans. But these funds are not guaranteed to come in, and they won’t meet the needs of our short-term future.”
Funds raised will go to the continued operation of the stores and support to its employees as well as the upcoming move of the Los Angeles location.