Haffa’s Records in uptown Athens is closing at the end of September, the owners confirmed this weekend, ending a 40-year-plus run as uptown Athens’ go-to record store.
Haffa’s is also the only record store left in Athens. Co-owner Andrew Lampela acknowledged that it was a “really tough decision to make.” However, the economics just aren’t working out in Haffa’s favor, particularly in the last few years, Lampela said Friday.
“You’ve got to weigh what’s going on; the way people absorb media these days has changed particularly in the last handful of years,” he said.. “So on the one hand it totally sucks the idea of the store not being here anymore; on the other hand, adult decisions have to prevail at some point.”
Lampela has worked at Haffa’s for the last 17 year, but even before that, he had been coming to the record store for years.
“I used to get all of my crappy metal tapes (from the likes of Slayer and Death Angel) when I was a loser little teenager,” Lampela recalled. “I have way too many memories of this place to even narrow it down.”
Eric Gunn, also a co-owner of the Union Bar across the street from Haffa’s, has owned Haffa’s since 1994 or 1995, he said Sunday. The business started in 1975 in the basement at Haffa’s current location at 15 W. Union St.
“The world is changing, and the way people consume music and entertainment has changed a lot… I think we’re falling prey to the same reasons why there’s no video stores anymore,” Gunn said. “People consume music via streaming and, you know, it’s just reached a point where it just wasn’t viable for us to continue on. So it’s really not something to be sad about; we had a great run.”
Brian Koscho, marketing director for Stuart’s Opera House, said Sunday that Haffa’s has been central to his Athens community experience since he came to town in 2001. He was one of many local residents who visited Haffa’s over the weekend after news broke about the store closing.
“It is through this space I’ve met so many of my closest friends and collaborators and a hub for all musicians both in Athens itself and passing through,” Koscho said. “Andrew, Gunn, Mackenzie and everyone at Haffa’s is family, and that shop always felt like home from the moment I set foot in that basement 18 years ago on my first visit here. I cannot put into words how essential that store is to my development and how much I am going to miss it.”