Little Mountain Music to close Dec. 20.

by: CORY MIMMS - Tony Hill paces through Little Mountain Music, which will close Dec. 20.Due to lack of business, Molalla’s record store is closing this month.

Little Mountain Music has been open since March, 2012. The shop’s doors will close for good on Dec. 20.

“It’s time to move on,” owner Tony Hill said. He decided in September to stop purchasing inventory and ride out his lease to the end of the year.

“Ain't no sound but the sound of his feet …”

Hill said Molalla’s business center simply isn’t robust enough to support the shop. He doesn’t know why.

“There’s a lot of empty buildings in Molalla,” he said. “You know, I drive through Silverton on the weekends and see people shopping. It seems like they have such a booming downtown.”

Hill said he doesn’t understand why Molalla doesn’t have the same vibrant economy.

“How do you think I'm going to get along, without you when you're gone …”

About two dozen people regularly came into the shop, Hill said. “I feel bad for those people.”

There are not a lot of options in the area for music shopping. When he first started getting serious about opening a record store, Hill considered Oregon City or other larger towns close by, but he didn’t want to commute, he said. by: CORY MIMMS - Tony Hill eyes the parking lot in front of Little Mountain Music. The lot is usually filled with cars, but the store didn't get enough business to make  it.

So he opened Little Mountain Music in the shopping center on Highway 211, just west of Molalla’s downtown.

Looking out the shop’s windows, Hill said he thought the location was pretty good.

The parking lot is usually full, as Safeway and other businesses draw in people from around the area.

Hill said he thought he’d get a lot of people into the store. But it just never happened.

“You took me for everything that I had, and kicked me out on my own …”

Hill isn’t certain why he didn’t build up a larger customer base. When he first opened the shop, he advertised and tried to boost business through promotions. Little Mountain Music was in the Fourth of July parade. He even had his son waving banners on the sidewalk next to Highway 211, trying to draw traffic into the shopping center. Still, not many people came into the store.

Sure, people shop online for music and movies. Yes, the music industry’s purchasing and distribution model has been changing significantly for more than a decade. And yes, records have been obsolete since the 1980s. But people still collect them.

“We had a pretty good mixture of new and used inventory,” Hill said. “We tried to keep up with several genres.”

Hill was most surprised by the lack of country music sales, as he thought Molalla had a large customer base for that genre. He said he moved more classic rock than anything else.

“I thought we could do a little better than we did,” Hill said, adding that he wasn’t trying to make a huge profit. “I just wanted to break even.”

Hill envisioned his son working in the store and himself talking music with customers and coming and going as he pleased.

“I thought I’d play record store when I wanted to,” Hill said.

Hill did employ his son for awhile but soon realized the store couldn’t support the wages.

“Are you happy? Are you satisfied?”

Owning a record store has been one of Hill’s lifelong goals.

“I spent a lot of time in record stores as a teenager in the 70s,” he said. He was the oldest child, so he discovered his own music tastes by flipping through the records.

Hill partially built the store’s inventory from his own collection. “Stuff I thought I could live without,” he said.

He still has many records, CDs and DVDs to sell before the store closes. Everything is marked down 50 percent.

Once the doors close, Hill said he plans to spend more time tending to his 20 acres in Colton and playing with his grandkids.

He’s disappointed the shop is closing, he said, but happy for the time he got to spend running it.

“I found a lot of people that have the same musical interests as me,” Hill said. “I met a lot of cool people and friends.”

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