The Northwest 23rd location of venerable, locally owned, independent record store Music Millennium is shuffling off this commercial coil—its clerks making their last recommendations, its cash registers ringing their final sales this Friday night, August 31st, as local alt-rockers Floater sound the concluding chords of the closing in-store performance, and summer turns to fall. The day's tone will not be altogether autumnal, however, as a cohort of bands and singer-songwriters—some employed by the store, others simply with feelings of affection for it—including Portland's own Jack McMahon, the Old Believers, Jim Brunberg (of Mississippi Studios), and Stars of Track and Field, will play a nearly10-hour, wake-like jag of live music on-site beginning at 1pm, a fitting end (in conjunction with the 40% off sale and free refreshments!) to Millennium's western outpost, which will probably best be remembered for the nearly 300 free, all-ages concerts it regularly hosted.
It's important to remember that while one location is closing after 30 years, Music Millennium is still alive and kicking out the jams at its flagship East Burnside location, where the in-store performances (which began in 1989 for the retailer's 20th anniversary) and some of the 23rd Ave. employees and merch will be transferred. Which raises the question: Why did one store close, while the other survives?
Music Millennium owner Terry Currier, who began his relationship with the store as a school-aged patron decades ago, put aside arguments about the NW store's ever-rising rent and the decline of record stores in the digital era to examine the differences between Millennia: "Eastside is the original location. It is sentimental to more people than the NW store because of that. It has eight more years on it. Eastside was the first of a new breed of underground recorded music stores in town. It spurred others to do the same. A recorded music junkie is more apt to come to the Burnside store. It is 5,000 square feet and NW was 6,000 square feet, but Burnside actually has twice the inventory. We own the building at Burnside, though we had to take a $400,000 mortgage against it last year to catch up our bills from the unprofitable NW store. The clientele at NW was made up of some regulars, some coming just for in-stores, some just shopping the street as they might shop a mall. The change of the funkiness on the street to the street becoming more upscale took some of our customers away. Also, as other streets like Alberta, Mississippi, and the Pearl came into their own, it gave people other options for shopping. Parking is also a problem in NW."