Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Shaxul Retail Store is closed, Shaxul Records lives on!

By the time you read this Shaxul Records, the first Heavy metal Record store in San Francisco, will have closed. My business partner and I took the lease
over in November of 2007 from the previous tenant, which was Reverb Records/F8 (a trance Record Store). We spent a few months remodeling and stocking up merch and
officially opened the doors on April 1st, 2008. The lease ended December 31st 2011 and although the landlord offered us another 5 year extension, we declined
due to very low sales and profit. This was not a surprise and I pretty much expected the store not to last. I just figured I would do it as long as I could
and if it took off, great. If not I would move on. I am proud to have been able to do this, but now it is someone else's turn!

Below are some frequently asked questions I have gotten regarding the store as well as a few I just felt like bringing up. Feel free to send more questions
to shaxul@shaxulrecords.com.

Why did Shaxul Records close?
Shaxul Records was a retail store. The way retail stores work is they buy products at a "wholesale" (discounted) rate then mark the items up in order to make
a profit. Since rent was due every 30 days, that gave me a month in which to recoup merch money and pay rent/expenses. If (and this is a big "if") money is
left after all that at the end of the month,it is called profit, and it is a beautiful thing! Unfortunately, we rarely sold enough in time to accomplish this!
In fact, the store often could not even recoup merch expenses within a month, which means I had to spend partially recouped
merch money on rent and other bills. The whole thing sorta snowballs from there and results in less new product on the shelf, more debt, customers who are
not as excited as they could be, and a generally disgruntled record store owner. That is all a complicated way of saying we didn't sell enough stuff to pay
the bills each month.

Did Amoeba mess your sales up?
When I worked at Trader Joes I noticed that they were usually located right near Safeway or some other huge super market. I noticed how the store benefitted from the
run-off traffic of the larger store. Same idea applied at Shaxul Records. Amoeba brought tons of traffic to our street that would otherwise not be there.
So for every sale I lost, there was probably a good 10 people or more that walked into the store that only came to the Haight because of Amoeba. More foot traffic =
more sales. So, no, Amoeba did not hurt my sales, they helped! But Metal is a slow seller and people buy everything on the internet these days. That is the
real reason we could not sell enough stuff.

What about online sales? Don't they help?
There is too much competition and the market is flooded with too many bands and too many releases. The profit margin is smaller than ever on distributed items
since the internet has caused customers to go more and more direct, driving up wholesale costs and killing potential profit for retailers. So the only way
to make good money is to sell huge amounts or manufacture your own items (both of which Century Media and Relapse do for example.) But that can be even harder
because Metal fans are more picky than ever these days as they are so used to all the options the internet provides them at the touch of a button.
You really need to know what you are doing to make decent money on the internet selling Metal. It's not as easy as you might think. I know one guy who has been
selling stuff on Ebay for years and closely studies all the underground releases. He lives on his girlfriend's couch and is not in a great mood when I see him.

I'm sooooo sad your store closed! Waaaahh!
I am sad too. Although I won't lie, I am extremely relieved not to have to hustle rent every month anymore! Hopefully I speak for some of you when I say the
store had an important symbolic meaning. Fuck yes, San Francisco SHOULD bloody well have at least 1 Metal Record store! But all I can say is that I gave it
a shot and it lasted nearly 4 years. If I coulda found rent for like $500 or free I might have kept going with it. But this is just unheard of in San Francisco
and in today's economic climate. One thing you can do is find some friends who are also dedicated to underground Metal and combine forces to open some sort
of Metal community center. I know it sounds a bit silly, but think if we had an all ages place where people into Metal could meet, trade stuff, see shows,
DJ, etc. Don't let elitist fuckheads discourage you. If you wanna see something done, do it yourself!

So that's it? The end? No more Shaxul?????
No, this is not the end for Shaxul Records. Before I opened the store, I released a few albums of my own bands Sangre Amado, Passive Aggressive, and Ulysses
Siren. My plan was to continue releasing albums, and not just bands I am in. But since the store was often not turning a profit, I had to use my own money to
bail it out more than once and more than twice! This made it impossible to release anything while the store was open. So in a way I am very
glad I can now focus on the label again. As a label I think I can do more for the underground actually. Distributing bands like Metallica, Megadeth, and
Anthrax while not making jack shit is not real helpful to the Metal underground if you ask me. Sure, it's helpful to those bands, but do they really need
my help? Site will remain up www.shaxulrecords.com and also check my Facebook page for the latest news.

You must have taken a real hit financially Shaxul didn't you?!?
I could sit here and exagerrate, but the fact is no, not too bad. I mean sure, I didn't really make anything doing Shaxul records. And if you calculated all
the time I worked without pay - the number would be a nice fat one! But in the end, I was rather careful and didn't get myself too badly into debt. Yes, there
is some. But as long as I can sell off all the shit left over from the store I should be ok. That being said, feel free to donate via paypal!

Any other words of wisdom Mr Shaxul???
I would ask that anyone who has any interest in the Bay Area Metal scene and "how it is doing" to take a look at what happened to Shaxul Records and come
to your own conclusions about the state of affairs here in the "Bay Area Metal Underground." Also, re-read #4!

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