It Was Fun While It Lasted HMV . . .

The Closing of Canada’s Premier Home Entertainment Retailer Feels Like Losing A Friend

After thirty years in business, HMV Canada threw in the towel on Friday.

There were a whole lot of numbers tossed around when the surprise announcement came down the media pike, but the simple truth is that the retailer’s debts outweigh their assets and already declining sales were forecast to sag further. At the end of the day they couldn’t maintain their juggling act any longer. As a result, all 102 stores across nine provinces will be closed by April 30th of this year, resulting in a loss of over 1200 jobs (most of HMV’s head office staff have already been let go). There are four stores in Ottawa with another two in Gatineau.

In recent years, HMV had become a bit of a geek mecca. Not only could you peruse the newest in pop culture via DVDs, CDs and Blu-rays, but they had diversified their selection by offering graphic novels, trade paperbacks, t-shirts, assorted geek paraphernalia, books and other merchandise you couldn’t find anywhere else. (Seriously, where else have you seen a set of Batman/Superman bookends?).

The formula helped the retailer tread water in the age of online piracy and streaming for several years after it was sold by its UK parent company in 2011, but Friday’s announcement revealed that the company hasn’t turned a profit since 2013 and was losing up to 100,00 dollars a day.

HMV had become one of my favourite shopping haunts. In one place you could browse new DVD and Blu-Rays (including reasonably priced collector sets and TV shows), super hero glassware, Star Wars themed Christmas ornaments, Batman toques and new POP vinyl figures. The blue jean clad staff was generally knowledgeable and you could enjoy a few minutes chatting them up about movies or TV shows or music. It was a great place to do some Christmas shopping (which is when I stopped in most often) if you were looking for interesting gift ideas, stocking stuffers or even things to add to your own list to St. Nick.

My favourite part about HMV during the Holidays was the Christmas wall they put up around mid-November. For some people it doesn’t feel like Christmas until their trees or Christmas lights go up, but for me I knew Christmas was in full swing as soon as I saw that giant display of Christmas movies (the Christmas display at the St. Laurent location literally took up an entire wall). Next Christmas is going to feel a little emptier, especially when I walk past an empty spot where an HMV used to be.

Liquidation has already started (the HMV Canada website is advertising up to 30% off sticker prices) but taking advantage of this going out of business sale is going to feel cold. Like picking up a good friend’s vintage record collection at a bankruptcy sale. Because unlike the other retailers that have fallen by the wayside the past few years, I’m really going to miss this one.