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Poplar Tunes Closed

September 11, 2009 | Other

It's the end of another era. The record shop that's boosted the careers of legends like Elvis Presley and B.B. King is closed for good. Poplar Tunes shut its doors Thursday, posting a sign on the door thanking customers for decades of business.
The King of Rock and Roll released his first record at the downtown store.

Longtime Memphis music legend George Klein knew Presley personally. He remembers hanging out at Pop Tunes with him back in the day.

"More often than not, Elvis Presley would walk in, because there was nothing happening in Memphis after 10 in those days," said Klein.

Memphis' original record shop is now sealed up. Doors locked. Customers walked away Friday, disappointed.

"I did not know they were closed," said customer Jimmy Johnson. He would occassionally shop for music here after work.

"A lot of people like myself would want the original copy instead of something off the internet," said customer Eddie Blevins.

The sign posted on the door says the store just couldn't compete with big-box retailers and the internet. Add to that the high cost of operation and it was reduced to quote "road kill with a slight pulse."

"Nationwide I think it was regarded as one of the last great record stores," said longtime Memphis DJ Steve Conley.

Callers on his morning show shared memories today.

"I had a story on the air today, the caller said 'When I was 6 years old, my dad took me to Pop Tunes and I bought a needle for my Mickey Mouse record player," he said.

He says the internet has dramatically changed the landscape of the music business.

"The days of the old record stores as we know it, I guess are gone," he said.

Mom and Pop shop record stores, even with a history as rich as this one are finding it impossible to keep up.

Greg Nolan wrote on September 11, 2009
Damn! Sorry to hear that. What a treat it was to visit this in 1993, surprised and pleased to see it still in fine and normal business...! Some would blame what the record industry did with their still-too high CD prices but I still find the whole download phenomenon the real killer to record stores and "Hard copies."... People particpate in that (for whatever the justifications) and it is killing of a once-great institutition: the record store.
theoldscudder wrote on September 12, 2009
A shame. I was lucky to visit this store in the90's.
I am Buffalo-Horn! wrote on September 12, 2009
A great shame. There were several other Pop Tunes branches scattered around Memphis; I wonder if they have gone too? Tower Records had a brief sojourn in Peabody Place, but that too closed a couple of years ago. Beyond specialist shops, which don't cater for Elvis fans, I don't think Memphis has got anywhere large where you can now get records. Incidentally, for those who know Memphis, the Pop Tunes building that Elvis visited was actually located right opposite the current building, just across the side road on the Lauderdale Courts side of Poplar Ave. Not too far from the crowded boarding house they lived in before moving to Lauderdale. Everything Elvis related seems to be going..
tuscanresident wrote on September 12, 2009
I am Buffalo Horn: Yep, isn't it a sign of the times though when music shops are closing in favor of downlaods? As for all things Elvis shutting down or being pulled down - well its over fifty years now since those heady Memphis days and times move on, unfortunately, and not always for the better. The Popular Tunes store was a favorite visit for overseas fans. Now though where can you find a shop with rows and rows of vinyl? Great shame.
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on September 12, 2009
With the crap thats put today,do we expect people to pay high prices for it? Its the lack of real talent and the fact that many who have great talent are hidden behind the onces who look better on a cd cover!
Mystery Rider wrote on September 12, 2009
Music and they way we knew it growing up in the 50's is now gone, and really has been gone since the CD hit the market, and now the CD is going, we are paying the price of progress.