Friday, January 4, 2019

Contributor Post: Memphis Area 7-Eleven Stores

Today's post highlights Shelby County, TN, retail, as well as that of DeSoto County, MS.

Two entries to the Lost Histories of Mid-South Retail series in one week?! Say it isn't so! Yes indeed, 2019 on the Mid-South Retail Blog is getting off to a great start, with thanks to blog contributor Mike B. for sending in the following post that you're about to read. (You can check out Mike's previous post, from August, at this link; and if you have any contributions of your own, you can always feel free to email those to us at midsouthretailblog [at] gmail [dot] com.) Enjoy!


Long before the dollar stores invaded every part of Memphis, another company had control of the neighborhood staple trade.

7-Eleven stores entered Memphis in 1966 when their parent company, Dallas TX based Southland Corporation, purchased American Service Company in Atlanta, operator of 86 Handy-Pantry convenience stores in Tennessee and Georgia.

Over the next 20 years, the Southland Corporation built convenience stores in almost every neighborhood of Memphis and also in outlying cities such as Millington and Collierville in Tennessee, and Southaven and Horn Lake in Mississippi. It would not be a stretch to say that by the mid 1980’s; Memphis may have been 7-Eleven’s best market in the Southeast outside of Florida.

Before 1980, the majority of stores were small neighborhood grocery stores, located near the entrances of large neighborhoods. Most of these stores were built in 7-Eleven’s “colonial” design, which blended well with neighborhood houses, or in the later mansard roof format. By 1980, the Memphis telephone book listed 68 locations, which would have been more stores than all other Tennessee cities combined.

Here is a link to see the colonial design as they originally looked. (By the way, the series of photos in this blog shows a 7-eleven with a Midwest dairy milk truck – this photo was probably taken in Memphis since Southland owned Midwest dairies - based in Memphis).

By the early 1980’s the convenience store business had started to change from the 7am to 11pm neighborhood store format to the 24 hour modern convenience store with emphasis on snacks (aka junk food), beer, soda, and cigarettes. By this time, new stores were being built with a small gasoline island. Because of these changes, many Memphis 7-Eleven stores were moved from the colonial design store to a new brick mansard store. These new stores were located down the street, across the street, or around the corner from the original. Southland also kept up with Memphis’ eastern migration by continuously building stores in new neighborhoods.
By December 1987, there were 56 locations listed in the Memphis Yellow Pages, and that didn’t include the 1 or 2 7-Eleven stores located on Navy Road in Millington. However, things would soon change because a few months earlier, the Southland Corporation defended itself from a hostile takeover attempt by buying all stock in the company. Newsweek magazine later reported that “Southland had become another victim of the roaring ’80s: having taken on a crushing $4.9 billion debt to take itself private in 1987”. In order to raise cash, Southland sold off side businesses such as Reddy Ice, Tydel systems (manufacturer of convenience store drop safes), Chief Auto Parts, and droves of 7-Eleven stores.

Ironically, the so called Southland Corporation pulled out of the southeast almost immediately: In April 1988, 473 7-Eleven stores in 10 States were sold to Circle K.  This transaction removed 7-eleven from Atlanta, Charlotte, Little Rock, Mobile AL, Nashville, New Orleans, and other southern cities. In separate transactions, 7-Eleven stores left Houston, Jacksonville, Minneapolis-St Paul, San Antonio, Fort Smith, and other areas. Memphis, for the time being, was retained as an operating city for 7-Eleven.

How I became interested: There was a 7-Eleven located down the street from my Murfreesboro, TN Elementary School. Although my family never stopped there, I knew from Movies and TV that cool “California” people shopped at 7-Eleven. Other than that, I could have cared less. A few years later, at my Junior High just outside of Nashville, a classmate mentioned that 7-Eleven didn’t exist anymore. Later, visiting family in Memphis, I was pleased to see that they were operating new stores in Bartlett and Raleigh. These 2 stores, with their low profile ground signs and tasteful landscaping looked much better than the run down orange 1970’s 7-Eleven that I remembered from elementary school.
Finally, in 1990, after a long day of visiting extended Memphis family and hanging out in Overton Park, my dad agreed to indulge my curiosity and stop at one of the 7-Elevens for the first of what would be hundreds of Slurpee’s in my lifetime. The final stop that evening was 7-Eleven #29103, located at 795 Highway 72 West in Collierville. Coincidentally, this was the newest and shiniest of the Memphis area stores, with a new store design that another 7-Eleven fan has called “twin towers” due to the symmetrical brick walls on either side of the store entrance. As we pulled into the parking lot the store looked all lit up and great. However, there was something wrong: On all the gas pumps, where the Citgo symbol should have been, there were new stickers, saying “Mapco Express”... 

(To be continued – hopefully soon)


A great post - and it even ends on a cliffhanger, just like some of those movies and TV shows that Mike recognized from a young age as epitomizing 7-Eleven as a store where cool "California" people shop :)  Stay tuned for Mike's follow-up post in the future, but in the meantime, Mike also sent in several great pictures and other information. First, some tips for any 7-Eleven spotters out there:

Two clues for spotting former 7-Elevens: Parking lot spotlight located on the pole sign and a 3 panel sign on the building. In the 80’s and 90’s this sign had two red squares, which were later replaced by the green/orange 3 striped logo. Another clue for stores that didn’t have gasoline sales was a pyramid shaped concrete base where the pole sign was affixed. Even when the sign is replaced, this base is usually left in place. Z Highland Market, which was located at 629 S. Highland, before being demolished for McDonald's, had all 3 of these clues.

And now, the pictures, which Mike kindly pulled for us from his collection:

Was it or wasn’t it? I can’t prove that this store, built in 1969, ever operated as a 7-Eleven colonial store, but it sure does look the part. Located at 4175 Summer Avenue. Colonial Stores were built from approximately 1964 to 1980 in the eastern US.

7-Eleven #24491, located at 3524 Covington Pike @ Yale Road in Raleigh in December 1989. This is the mansard roof design which was built from approximately 1970 to 1987. Note the 3 panel sign, mentioned in my clues above.

Pole sign for store #24491. Note the spotlight, also mentioned in my tips for spotting 7-Eleven stores.

7-Eleven #25677 6859 Highway 70 @ Stage Rd, Bartlett. This store has the 7-Eleven sign, sans the red squares, no doubt to comply with Bartlett’s sign ordinance. The lady in the picture is my mom, no doubt wondering why her son was into gas stations instead of guns or guitars... (Don't worry, Mike - I'm sure all parents of retail fans wonder something like that at some point!)

Former 7-Eleven #12891 314 N. Cleveland – Looking like they did in better days, this is the best preserved former location in Memphis.  If you put “7-Eleven near Memphis” in Google Maps- this location comes up as “permanently closed”.

Finally, for those of you who may be interested in doing further research, Mike also shared with us his sources for this post:

  • Oh Thank Heaven! The Story of The Southland Corporation – Allen Liles 1977, Library of Congress Catalog # 77-71336, Page 186.
  • Japan Takes a Big Gulp – Newsweek, April 2nd, 1990
  • Gasoline and C-Store Derby: Why Circle K is Gaining in the Home Stretch – National Petroleum News -  J Richard Shaner – August 1988
  • South Central Bell – Greater Memphis Telephone Directory (White Pages), August 1980
  • South Central Bell – Greater Memphis Area Yellow Pages – December 1987 

So that will do it for this post. Thanks again to Mike B. for sharing all this great information and photography with us! Leave any questions, concerns, or compliments for Mike in the comments :)  Also, once more, please be sure to check out Mike's previous contribution to the Mid-South Retail Blog here, as well as l_dawg2000's corollary to that post here. And until next time, as always, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

For the Record (...Store)

Happy New Year, everyone! For the first feature post of 2019, we'll be exploring the history of (drumroll please...) record stores. Well, more accurately, I suppose a better term would be "media stores," since I'm referring to places that sell a hodgepodge of merchandise, including CDs, DVDs, pop culture collectibles, even vinyl (since that's coming back into style these days!). When I ask you to think of a store that sells all of this stuff, what probably comes to your mind today is mall-based retailer FYE. But back before the rise of online shopping, your major source for these items came from a variety of such stores: you might recognize the names Camelot, Wherehouse, Suncoast, Sam Goody... and more.

Admittedly, I'm young enough to where a majority of these stores vanished in my early childhood, so I don't have any memories of shopping at any of them. Despite this, however, in recent months I've found myself researching the industry, and uncovering lots of information I never knew before - as well as some factors that I never would have guessed that contributed to the downfall of many of the once-big media chains. I also find it quite intriguing to see the state of the industry today, following an absolute onslaught of store closures over the years, and countless bankruptcies and intellectual property transfers. Buckle up, because this post is going to be a wild ride!

The Memphis Connection

From my introduction, you can probably already tell that this post extends its focus beyond the Mid-South. So in order to include that local connection, we'll begin our journey by highlighting one store in particular: located at one of the most-traveled intersections in the entire city of Memphis, the Blockbuster Music at the corner of Poplar and Highland.

Courtesy DRC Architect

Courtesy DRC Architect

Courtesy DRC Architect

You are surely familiar with the name Blockbuster, derived from the iconic (if outdated) chain of video rental stores. Well, back in 1992, Blockbuster purchased the retail chains Sound Warehouse and Music Plus, and rebranded them as a new entity: Blockbuster Music. Above are some images of a typical Blockbuster Music store's interior. I can only assume the idea was to leverage Blockbuster's success in the video industry to the related venture of retail music stores.

Courtesy Memphis Magazine

Courtesy Dig Memphis

At Poplar Plaza in Memphis, the building where Blockbuster Music would eventually open was first constructed in 1947, as Lowenstein's department store. By the late 1980s/early 1990s, a second floor had been added to the structure, and it was operating as a Dillard's department store instead. Then, once Dillard's closed, the building was subdivided, with the prime corner spot opening as Blockbuster Music in 1994, a larger-than-life two-story Elvis Presley statue hanging in the giant picture window.

Time Track

By 1998, Blockbuster wanted to focus solely on videos again, selling off its Blockbuster Music stores to Wherehouse. By this time, there were two stores in Memphis, with the other being near the (now-defunct) Mall of Memphis. These were among the final Blockbuster Music stores acquired by Wherehouse to be rebranded, with the name swap taking place in July of 1999. Regarding the Poplar Plaza Elvis, the new owners reassured Memphians that "they will not dethrone the king."

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the music industry...

In 1999, the industry grew one competitor smaller, as Trans World Entertainment purchased Camelot Music. Camelot operated stores under the trade names Camelot, The Wall, and Spec's Music. Trans World, at the time, operated stores under the names Record Town, Saturday Matinee, Coconuts, Planet Music, Strawberries, and FYE. Trans World leadership expected to add the three new trade names from Camelot to its roster, noting, "The Camelot brand name is strong, as are [the other two]. We will evaluate it, but it is probably good for the customer [for us to keep the names]."

(Spoiler alert... you'll want to keep tabs on Trans World as this post moves forward.)

In 2001, another major player - The Music Network, which operated stores under the names Willie's, Kemp Mill, and Peppermints - made waves when it announced the purchase of 64 Wherehouse stores. The two Memphis locations were included in the sale. As a result of the transaction, The Music Network also assumed a new trade name, under which it subsequently rebranded all of its stores: Turtle's (a brand which itself had changed hands many times throughout the 90s, only to die off while owned by Wherehouse, and then be resurrected by The Music Network).

The second Memphis Blockbuster Music/Wherehouse/Turtle's, near the Mall of Memphis, would wind up closing in 2003, but the Poplar Plaza location kept going strong. It was noted that that store in particular "was the most profitable in both the Blockbuster and Turtle's chains, and second for Wherehouse."

Also in 2001, in another major transaction, Musicland - which had some of the most recognizable national names in media retail, including Sam Goody, Suncoast Motion Picture Company, Media Play, and On Cue - was purchased by a similarly-national player, Best Buy. Best Buy did its best to effect change within its Musicland division, with one such effort being the 2002 rebranding and re-merchandising of all of its On Cue stores to Sam Goody, but ultimately the big-box retailer went on to admit that the smaller-format outlets were out of its wheelhouse, liquidating much of the locations before finally finding a buyer in Sun Capital Partners in 2003.

Record Scratch

The changing competitor landscape of 2001 carried over into the following year, when in 2002 regional operators Central South and Value Music merged, keeping the corporate name of the latter. Central South, based in Nashville, operated stores under the Sound Shop and Music for Less umbrellas; Value Music had two stores branded as Spin Street, and the rest as Music for a Song. At the time, Value Music's CEO said, "When you put these companies together, one plus one equals three."

In hindsight, that quote is rather ironic, seeing as how just four months later, Value Music "was forced to seek Chapter 11 protection due to $3.6 million in accounting inconsistencies discovered after the merger." As it turns out, this was only the beginning. 2003 turned out to be an absolutely terrible year for the music industry. As noted previously, Best Buy liquidated nearly all of the stores from its Musicland division before finding a buyer at the last minute. Both Wherehouse and The Music Network also filed for bankruptcy, and went out of business. Prior to its filing, The Music Network actually tried to "return to sender" those 64 Wherehouse stores it had purchased in 2001, claiming that "since Wherehouse is the main name on the lease, the stores can be rejected as part of [Wherehouse's] bankruptcy." (It seems doubtful that that ploy worked out for them.)

A good majority of the articles I compiled all this information from were written by Ed Christman, for the "Retail Track" column of Billboard Magazine in the early 2000s. Regarding that attempted reverse transaction, Christman in 2003 wrote, "In its defense, Music Network bought the [64 Wherehouse] stores in a year when album sales were only down 2.85%. Who knew that during the next year, 2002, album sales would drop 10.7%?"

Value Music would actually emerge from bankruptcy later in 2003, but The Music Network and Wherehouse would not. Trans World would go on to purchase what remained of Wherehouse. I'm unsure of the overall fate of The Music Network, but I do know that our guiding light for this post - the Blockbuster Music/Wherehouse/Turtle's at Poplar Plaza in Memphis - would be sold to the freshly-reorganized Value Music in December of 2003. Four months later, on Monday, April 12th, 2004, the store reopened under the logo Spin Street.

Image source unknown

Christman dedicated the May 1st, 2004, "Retail Track" column exclusively to the grand opening, writing, "After buying the store, Value Central began renovations. 'Since it has so much traffic going by, we have put up tremendous outside signage, including reading boards that give constant messages to drivers,' [the CEO of Value Music] says," and also noting that "the store opening was tied to the debut of the Memphis Heroes Awards ... In fact, [award recipients D.J. Fontana and Scotty Moore] cut the ribbon on the new SpinStreet." And, in keeping with tradition, local paper The Memphis Flyer wrote, "Of more interest to the public will be the unveiling of a new version of the store's gigantic Elvis Presley cutout that peers over the parking lot. 'It's been up for so long and has faded,' [the store manager] says of the original installation, which debuted in 1995. 'We thought about repainting it but decided it'd be better to really flash it up.'"

Who's to Blame?

Courtesy The State

Although it may sound to you, at this point, like all of the record stores out there were owned by one of the aforementioned corporations, make no mistake: there were still great multitudes of independent music retailers scattered all around the country. One such retailer was Manifest Discs and Tapes, founded in Columbia, SC, which went on to be so successful that it actually grew into its own little chain of seven stores (at its peak) throughout the Carolinas. Two stores closed in the industry downturn in 2002, but owner Carl Singmaster still had five profitable stores left. However, Singmaster could see the volatility striking the industry around him, and made the difficult decision to (pardon the pun) face the music: he announced in January 2004 that he would be shutting down all of his Manifest stores.

Singmaster cited several reasons for his decision. Perhaps most pressing was that the leases on the five remaining locations were all coming due, and he thought "it would be 'scary' to make new five-year commitments in the present business climate" - a case of "jump[ing] before he was pushed," wrote David Segal in a 2004 Washington Post profile titled "Requiem for the Record Store." But in a broader sense, speaking more to the ailments of the industry as a whole than to his specific stores, Singmaster lamented the evolution of music retail.

You might think that he was referring to the rise of online shopping, here. But you'd be surprised: no, Amazon wasn't to blame. It did play a role, but it wasn't the star of the show; nor was internet piracy (which was running rampant at the time). No, said Singmaster, the record labels themselves were at fault. Segal explains:

Singmaster opened his first store 19 years ago, and since then has often been confounded by the labels' addiction to the album format. It requires fans to pay around $15.99 for, say, a 12-song disc that might have only a couple of tunes they'd like to hear. The single, once the mainstay of the record business, was getting scant attention from the labels. Eventually, as the public demand for a la carte, downloadable music became clearer, owners like Singmaster had a hard time getting in on the action.
"We said, 'Just give us access to anything that is available online,'" Singmaster says. "We'll give you 69 cents a song, just like Apple does. Just let us burn a physical CD, and we'll sell it."

From Ed Christman, in a separate article:

Instead, [Singmaster's] proposal was met with "no, no, no, no, no. Not one company would consider it. he labels think the consumer wants to do it [download singles] at home. Well, people can make coffee at home for a few cents, and yet they go to Starbucks and pay $3.50 for it."

Continues Segal:

Manifest finally signed a deal for a $3,000 computer system called a Starbox, which allowed customers to burn songs onto a CD, but, under the terms of a licensing agreement, prohibited staff from burning discs or creating compilations on their own. It was as though Manifest employees were teaching every customer how to make a doughnut but couldn't bake any themselves.
"Can you imagine if there was tremendous consumer demand for an 18-ounce Pepsi and we told Pepsi about this demand?" Singmaster says. "How long do you think it'd be before Pepsi started selling an 18-ounce Pepsi to anyone, anywhere? The record industry has created all these barriers, and those barriers have alienated customers."

In yet another 2004 article, this one appropriately titled "Manifest Destiny," author John Schacht addresses even more frustrations imposed upon independent record store owners by the labels:

With all [the 2003 record store bankruptcies and subsequent] closings, you'd think the major labels would try to stem the tide and convince the fleeing masses to return to the independents, chain or otherwise. But you'd be wrong. One label, Universal, did slash its deep catalog prices by 25 percent in September, but with lower prices came lower profit margins for an industry already on life support. Instead, the labels and the rapacious monsters they've created, like the Rolling Stones and the Eagles, found new ways to squeeze more money out of their fans and screw most retailers in the process. Both signed deals with mega-retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart for exclusive releases, dooming the independent retailers to 30 days of telling their own customers: "No, you have to go to Best Buy to get that Stones DVD you've seen advertised on TV."
"If we were selling sneakers, and Nike said they wouldn't let us have their hottest model, we'd say, 'Screw you, we'll sell Reebok,'" Singmaster said by way of analogy. "But when you can't have the latest music by the Rolling Stones, we can't say, 'OK, we'll sell the customer Britney Spears instead.'"

Something that I found of particular interest in this discussion was the admission that the unprofitability plaguing the industry did not affect solely the independent music retailers. Indeed, as Segal noted, "Best Buy and Wal-Mart often sell new CDs a dollar or two below wholesale prices, using the lure of the new Sheryl Crow album, for instance, to bring customers to the stores and sell them something else [to make up for that loss], like a high-margin computer or a washing machine. Likewise, at 99 cents per song, Apple is actually losing money on each [iTunes] track it sells. It earns the money back, and then some, by selling iPods, which start at $249."

If these factors have continued to persist in the decade and a half that has followed, then perhaps we can begin to extrapolate why CD sales have continued to decline, to the point where the medium is almost being considered obsolete by some, such as Best Buy, which has stopped selling CDs altogether, or Target, which has drastically reduced its CD inventory (while simultaneously, and ironically, reintroducing vinyl and cassettes to its shelves). But I digress. Back to the subject at hand...

Operating Quietly, Approaching the Present

"As it happens," wrote the staff of in late March of 2004, "Manifest Discs & Tapes lives on under new ownership. The announced closings generated so much buzz in the community that four of them were purchased."

The two flagship stores - in Columbia, SC, and Charlotte, NC - went to none other than Value Music, the same company that purchased the Memphis store that they would go on to rebrand as Spin Street. Following this, however, the retail industry seemed to permanently go silent. It's not that it had disappeared - rather, it just seems like media coverage gave up on them. The last major event I found was the 2006 bankruptcy of Musicland (which at this point, remember, was owned by Sun Capital Partners). All Media Play stores closed down, as did a fair amount of Sam Goody and Suncoast stores. Those that remained open were sold to - you guessed it - Trans World. By this time, Trans World counted among its brands FYE, Coconuts, Strawberries, CD World, Spec's, Second Spin, and Planet Music.

Per some "intensive Googling," I discovered that Value Music continued purchasing independents, such as its 2005 purchase of Backdoor Records in Cotati, California, and its 2007 purchase of eight Record & Tape Traders stores in the northeast. Then, in February 2010, Ed Christman - still writing for Billboard's "Retail Track" - headlined an article "Without A Sound: Value Music Closes Most Of Its Stores As It Prepares For Liquidation." Interestingly enough, Value Music's liquidation was similar to Manifest's (attempted) disbanding back in 2004 in that it was not a result of any bankruptcy proceedings; rather, it was simply a business decision to exit the industry. That way, wrote Christman, "the chain will [be able to] pay off creditors without...such legal proceedings...drain[ing] money away from [the] creditors." Continued Christman: "The 35-unit, Marietta, GA-based company has shuttered most of its locations in the last six weeks and only six stores were open at press time: two Manifest Discs & Tapes in North and South Carolina, two Record & Tape Traders in Maryland, and two Spin Street stores, one in Memphis and one at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT."

I bet you can guess which company bought those six stores.

The Last of the Trans World Independents

They are the last of the old guard, staying alive despite the many obstacles they've faced. Sure, Trans World Entertainment has had to adjust considerably to the changing times, but the fact that they've survived this long has got to say something about their persistence, right? Ideally, it says something about their relevance, too... but I suppose only time will tell, on that front.

Courtesy Facebook

Courtesy Google Maps

Strictly speaking, all of Trans World's brick-and-mortar stores are FYE locations, these days. The merchandise is, generally, the same. So are the computer systems, and the price tags. It's worth noting, too, that the merchandise selection has changed: a noticeable shift away from the music and movies of the past, to a dramatically larger focus on pop culture merchandise such as T-shirts, and collectibles from brands like Funko. In fact, in 2016, several brand new FYE prototype stores debuted, in locations such as Rockaway, NJ, replacing the final known Saturday Matinee store; it cuts CD and DVD space (and overall square footage, for that matter) in favor of a new logo and more pop culture items. (Before and after pictured above.)

But just because all of Trans World's stores operate as FYE... doesn't mean they're all branded as FYE. I've heard arguments before that suggest some companies retain outdated brand names or slogans, that they've otherwise completely retired from widespread use, at one or two outlets just to ensure that they're able to legally keep the intellectual property copyright or trademark. (The justification being that, if they stop using it, they lose the right to keep others from using it.) And then there's also the even simpler explanation that the cost of changing over the signage is just too high to even bother. Whatever the reason(s)... several brand names that you might think are extinct actually do still exist out there in the wild. And surprisingly, contrary to my expectations, Trans World doesn't seem to be making any effort to bury them away.

Case in point: if you head to Trans World's corporate website and hit "Our Brands," you'll be taken to the page pictured above. Note the three choices: FYE, its primary brand... etailz, an online retailer (and a relatively recent acquisition)... and a third option, titled "Other Brands." Click that one...

...and voilà! All of Trans World's obscure, long-presumed-dead secondary brands are highlighted. Let's examine each in turn.

From what I can gather, SecondSpin seems to be a mainly online-oriented brand; a few of its storefronts even wear the logo as To that end, the aforementioned website appears to still be going strong, but as for SecondSpin's retail stores, only one physical location remains: 1781 Newport Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA. Stores in Sherman Oaks, CA, and Denver, CO, closed in January 2016 and January 2018, respectively.

The two remaining Manifest locations continued to survive as a pair... until now. As I write this, the Columbia, SC, location is undergoing a liquidation sale. It is expected to close by the end of this month (January 2019). The remaining location's address is 6239 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC.

Similar to Manifest Columbia, the final remaining Record & Tape Traders location in Towson, MD, is currently undergoing a liquidation sale, with the final day expected to be sometime later this month.

While SecondSpin, Manifest, and Record & Tape Traders (and Spin Street - I'll get to that one momentarily) were/are comprised of large, freestanding locations, Trans World still has some older mall-based and smaller-format brands, too. Sam Goody is one of them: yes, Sam Goody is still around! You can visit its two remaining locations at 1600 N Riverside Ave, Medford, OR, or 67800 Mall Rd, St Clairsville, OH. Sadly, the final freestanding Sam Goody - itself one of those rebranded On Cue stores, mentioned much earlier in this post - closed down in August 2018. flickr user AsiimovRetailer has a few pictures of that store (located in Cookeville, TN), which you can view beginning here and scrolling left.

Coconuts Music and Movies has one remaining, freestanding location, at 711 N Green River Rd in Evansville, IN. (From what I've seen on Google Maps, this looks like a large location as well, along the lines of SecondSpin and its affiliates - so I'm not sure why it has never been listed on the SecondSpin website. The Manifest, R&TT, and Spin Street stores all were.)

Spec's Music's first ever location would also prove to be its final operational one in the continental US, closing in 2013. However, one location does remain open at 525 Av Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico.

Perhaps surprisingly, Suncoast Motion Picture Company has the most locations out of any of these zombie brands - although, per the logo above, they've shed the "Motion Picture Company" from their name. Suncoast can be found at 10000 California St, Omaha, NE; 180 State Route 35 S, Eatontown, NJ; 1236 Lloyd Ctr, Portland, OR; and 6155 Eastex Fwy, Beaumont, TX.

And of course... we mustn't forget Spin Street. Unfortunately, as those of you in the Mid-South are probably aware, Memphis's Spin Street (in Poplar Plaza) closed in January 2018, after a liquidation sale that began in November 2017 (photos from which you can view in my flickr album here, and in l_dawg2000's flickr album here). The lone other Spin Street location, in Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, followed suit not long after, with its final day taking place in August 2018. For documentation's sake, photos I was able to find of that Mohegan Sun Spin Street location, as well as a few other stores I've mentioned in this post, can be seen below.

Spin Street Mohegan Sun:

Courtesy JJBers

Courtesy Google Maps

Courtesy JJBers

Courtesy Here Wee Read

Courtesy Here Wee Read - yes, unlike Spin Street Memphis (and most other Trans World stores, for that matter), Spin Street Mohegan Sun sold books!

Courtesy Here Wee Read

Image source unknown

Courtesy Foursquare - taken during the liquidation in August 2018

Courtesy Foursquare - taken during the liquidation in August 2018

Courtesy Twitter - taken during the liquidation in August 2018

Courtesy Twitter - taken during the liquidation in August 2018

Courtesy Twitter - taken during the liquidation in August 2018

Courtesy Twitter - taken during the liquidation in August 2018

Courtesy Instagram - post-closure

Spin Street Memphis:

Image source unknown

Courtesy The Daily Helmsman - taken during the liquidation in November 2018

Courtesy The Daily Helmsman - taken during the liquidation in November 2018

Courtesy The Daily Helmsman - taken during the liquidation in November 2018

Courtesy Facebook - taken post-closure, during signage removal (Elvis was reportedly sent to Trans World's HQ in Albany, NY - either there, or the FYE store in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH)

Courtesy Facebook - taken post-closure, during signage removal

Taken post-closure, on July 20th, 2018. The former Spin Street space has yet to be retanted, but is being marketed - including the unused-since-the-department-store-days second story retail space!

Manifest Columbia:

Courtesy Boozer Shopping Center

Courtesy Boozer Shopping Center

Courtesy Boozer Shopping Center

For those of you who want to see more pictures of this store... stay tuned to my flickr photostream :)

Record & Tape Traders Towson:

Courtesy Facebook

Sam Goody Cookeville:

Courtesy The Herald-Citizen

Remember, AsiimovRetailer has pictures of this store on flickr; see the link earlier in this post to access those.

Courtesy AsiimovRetailer

Speaking of AsiimovRetailer... check out what else he captured, while visiting an FYE store in Wisconsin! I thought it was pretty neat to see this gift card showing the logos of all of Trans World's brands, and not just FYE. Like I said, I'm pleasantly surprised with how open Trans World is being with showcasing all of these other brand names of theirs. I didn't discover this until after I had done all of my research (naturally, since finding this sooner would have made things much easier for me XD ), but FYE even lists all of these brands' locations right on their store locator: take a look!

Kind of ironic that they're listed as FYE's "indie brands," since most of them were at one point much larger chains themselves, but we'll take what we can get :P  The last remaining Coconuts store is the only one not represented here, but perhaps that will take the place of the Record & Tape Traders spot soon, since that store is about to close.

Speaking of all these closings: hopefully I've demonstrated to you that - despite the fact that, yes, they have survived thus far - Trans World is not immune to liquidating its stores, either. Obviously, I'm hoping that a company-wide bankruptcy and shutdown is not in the cards anytime soon (or anytime at all, for that matter). But for the time being, store closures are just a fact of life for Trans World, with even more said to be on the horizon. So... if you're interested in seeing any of these forgotten brands for yourself, make sure you try and do so sooner rather than later. And, if you're feeling particularly kind, while you're there maybe grab a few pics and send them in to midsouthretailblog [at] gmail [dot] com - it'd be much appreciated :)

Oregon is a Magical Place

Before I wrap things up, I wanted to make sure it didn't go unnoticed that two of the remaining "indie" brands of Trans World both have stores operating in the state of Oregon (Sam Goody in Medford, and Suncoast in Portland). And to bring this post full circle... even though it's unrelated to Trans World, or record stores, it is absolutely worth mentioning that the very last remaining Blockbuster Video in the US can also be found in Oregon, in the city of Bend. (That one was highly publicized over the summer of 2018, after the final Alaska locations closed - a few pictures follow below.) My point being... Oregon looks like a very awesome state to visit, for fans of media stores!

Courtesy GeekWire

Courtesy GeekWire

Courtesy Facebook

Courtesy Facebook

Well, that does it for the first post of 2019 here on the Mid-South Retail Blog. I hope I was able to shed some light on the relatively undocumented world of media stores, and how their timeline has changed over the past few decades. It would be great if one of those remaining Trans World "indie brand" stores were located in the Mid-South... but I guess it just wasn't meant to be. (And besides, we did have Spin Street, until its closure last year!)

I digress, though. Next time, our posts will return their focus to local retail... including an upcoming contributor post from Mike B., that I'll hopefully have published within the next week or so. So, stick around for that, and I wish you all the best in the new year! Until next time and as always, have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are :)

Retail Retell