The end has begun.
Plugd Records, Cork’s only independent record store, announced on Monday via a thread on the PRoC that it is to close at the end of this year.
Here’s the bad news in the words of the boss, Jim:
Wanted to get on to some of ye personally before this got out. But well, here you go…
Some news on the plugd front. I’ll try and keep it short.
We are shutting up shop after Christmas. Feels weird writing it, but there it is. The plan is to close the doors before the new year. To be honest we don’t know yet if this will be permanent or temporary. It will definitely be a few months and if anything does happen in the future it will be in a different premises with a lot of changes to the business.
After 8 years here it was a difficult decision to make, but it has become increasingly obvious over the last while that things are not working out in our current situation. We really have gone to the wall and we can’t see things improving.
The reasons are straight forward enough – business is down, like most others at the moment – and overheads are staying up. Simple as that. Besides the current economic climate the plight of record shops has been well documented. Sadly, there have been a few in Cork that have closed before us, and there are examples in any city you could mention.
Myself and Albert have been throwing ideas around over the last while, thinking about ways to improve matters. A couple of simple things became apparent – selling music is not enough to get by anymore. And we can’t develop further in the premises plugd occupies. Hopefully after we close, we will have a bit of time to come up with a plan b.
Apologies about the inconvenience this might cause people. I will get back to ye over the week with details of our exact closing date and our pre-closing sale. There’s a couple of things going on in plugd before Christmas I will let ye know about too.
Finally, a huge thanks to everyone, from the rockers to the ravers, who have been through the door since we opened – especially our regulars, who kept us going for so long. It’s been a real good time.
Jim / Albert
Words can’t begin to describe how awful this is for any music lover in Cork. Plugd has been in residence at 4A Washington Street for eight years, and there has been a record store in that premises for over 20 years, with Comet there before Jim moved in, only in his mid-twenties at the time.
Anyone involved in the Cork music scene will realise how disastrous this is for Ireland’s second city. To quote StevieG, a DJ, promoter and radio presenter in Cork, ‘Plugd was the epicentre of the Cork music scene.’ I couldn’t agree more.
For anyone at all who decided to put on a gig over the past eight years, Plugd was their first stop. Both Albert and Jim had unlimited time for everyone who walked through the door. They sold tickets for independent promoters, as well as being the main outlet for Tickets.ie. Posters for gigs lined the walls, and there seemed to be never-ending space for flyers.
Albert has given me so much advice since I’ve been going in there. I’ve been involved in putting on a few all ages gigs in Cork over the past year, and he has answered my questions and told me to learn from his mistakes. Not only music advice, but he has been a huge source of wisdom in all areas of life. I’d be a bloody lunatic without him.
For a city as big as Cork, having an independent record store to stock the numerous local bands’ EPs and albums was a massive necessity. The local music scene would only be a fraction of what it is today if it wasn’t for Plugd to support these young, talented musicians along the way.
Plugd catered (and will continue to cater for until New Year’s Eve) for all sorts. From rock/pop/indie to dance to electronica to reggae to Jimmy’s favourite, the ‘deep dubby techno’, whatever you were into, it could be found in Plugd. Or if you hadn’t a clue what you were into, Jim or Albert would find something for you, and their impeccable taste meant that no-one walked back out those doors unsatisfied. I undoubtedly wish I could have spent more money in there. I know I should have bought more, but at sixteen years of age, it’s difficult to find the money. I do know though, that if Plugd does return, I will support it regularly. If it means I have to stop eating and walk to and from town in the lashing rain, then so be it.
To many people, Plugd was alot more than a record store. It was a whole community in itself. People met new like-minded people, and a little population of ‘Plud-goers’ emerged. Every Saturday, the rockers and the ravers would head in, with the obligatory coffee from Gusto next door, listen to music and chat with fellow Pluggers. The atmosphere in there was amazing. Nothing will ever compare.
The customers chatted about what they had bought; Albert gave regular updates on the Premiership matches, speaking just that bit louder when Spurs scored. Gig-goers had a look at the gig listings and Jim or Albert advised them what shows to go to. Plugd even put on their own shows from time to time, hooking up with some other local promoter.
And of course there were the in-stores, the most recent one being Toby Kaar’s set for Cork Culture night. The CD racks were pushed to the back of the shop, Toby set up, and the community gathered to listen to his choons. Stoked, as Toby would say himself. It was a really lovely night, people inside, but also outside, sitting along the footpath, chatting and wowing over Toby’s choons coming at them through the speakers outside. It was quite fabulous.
I got to know some pretty cool people from going in there. I’m not going to make a list, but there were a fair few. It hurts a little inside to think that I won’t get to see these people anymore, or that I won’t meet anymore Pluggers. I love Cork, alot. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, but I now realise that why I thought Cork was so cool was because of Plugd. It was that something extra about the town, when you walked down the street and you saw someone you may have never talked to, but just recognised from going in there, and there was a wave and a smile. Shur why would you want to go anywhere else?
When 4A Washington Street closes, a little part of the city will die too. In 2005 Cork was European Capital of Culture, and rightly so. Now though, I can’t see this great sense of culture so much. Plugd was the music scene. I know there’s plenty of venues and promoters, but what’s a city without a record store like Plugd? Road Records in Dublin announced earlier this year that it too was closing. Immediately, everyone on the Dublin music circuit set about trying to save the shop on Fade Street. A benefit gig was held and Road was saved. But Road’s knight in shining armour wasn’t one night out, but some generous wealthy person who gave Dave and Julie of Road Records a nice sum of money.
We in Cork will be more than willing to do the same type of benefit night. After all, there’s enough promoters, venues, bands and DJs to volunteer their services, but it will never be enough to save our beloved music store. Even if it was, Plugd is, at the end of it all, a business. Coming to this decision has obviously been one of the hardest things Jim has ever had to do, and he hardly made it lightly. We have to recognise that this is what Jim and Albert have to do right now, but hopefully they will be back.
I have too many memories from this little oasis of music to recount here. All I can say is that I’ll miss it. I’ll miss going in early in the morning, and being the only person in there, sitting on the stool while Albert washed the floor. I’ll miss how Jim used to look like the coolest person in the world with his skinny jeans, Converse and various grey jumpers. I’ll miss how I used to go in there and end up chatting to someone I would never in a million years have met if it weren’t for Plugd. I’ll miss putting the CDs back on the shelf for Albert, and telling him about my latest problems in life.
When I went in there today, for the first time since hearing the news, I cried. I cried when Jim came in and at how everything seemed normal. I don’t know what I expected, but it seemed strange that it was all the same. Albert was typing away on the computer, Jim came down to get some vinyl and bring them back up to the office, and people were browsing away. It’s really, really sad to thing that this will all come to an end three weeks from today.
Hopefully there can be a Plugd v2.0 in a new location and with a renewed energy after Jimbert’s much needed break.
I can’t imagine who I’d be today if I hadn’t been introduced to that little world.
I guess it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Or at least that’s what ‘they’ say.
Here’s a documentary on Plugd. Good as it is, it will never give you a true sense of what a gem this place was.