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Chicago's Virgin Megastore to close

Old 05-19-07, 09:03 PM
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Chicago's Virgin Megastore to close

I can't believe they stayed open for this long. Yes, I know they had a lot of rare stuff, but the prices they were charging was up there in the Tower Records range.

Music store to close; make room for clothes

By John Schmeltzer and Eric Benderoff
Tribune staff reporters.
Published May 19, 2007

Virgin Megastore, which opened less than a decade ago at one of the highest-profile intersections on Michigan Avenue, is closing.

The chain, in a statement e-mailed to the Tribune, said that it will close its Chicago and Salt Lake City stores in July. That will bring to seven the number of Virgin outlets that have been shuttered since last year as the music industry undergoes a seismic shift with growing competition from online music sales.

Virgin's Chicago space will be taken by Forever 21, which will open a Forever XXI store in the 40,000-square-foot space, according to Larry Meyer, senior vice president and chief financial officer of the Los Angeles-based clothing chain. It will continue operating a Forever 21 on State Street as well as one in Water Tower Place.

"We view Chicago as a big city where we can have stores in the same general area and satisfy multiple customers," said Meyer, who said the chain hopes to open its new store this fall.

Forever XXI, the name that the 390-store chain uses for its larger stores, offers men's and women's fashions, as well as lingerie, footwear, cosmetics and other accessories.

Opening the larger store will allow it to compete more effectively against other chains like the Swedish fashion retailer H&M, which is located at the north end of Michigan Avenue. Virgin is at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Ohio Street.

Forever 21 has 10 stores in the Chicago area, and H&M has eight.

The closing of the Chicago and Salt Lake Virgin Megastores will leave Virgin with 11 music stores still operating in the U.S. It operates more than 100 Megastores in the United Kingdom.

Chicago employees were told of the plans on Friday.

The London-based store, a unit of the Virgin Group, a UK-based conglomerate owned by Richard Branson, said it "believes that its mission of creating the finest entertainment retail experience in the country is predicated on the quality of its stores rather than the quantity of its locations."

Virgin said it "remains fully committed to entertainment retail and will continue to seek suitable locations in the country in which to operate Virgin Megastores that will meet both the needs of the company and its customers."

Those plans, however, are in contrast to what has happened to other retail music stores.

In December, Tower Records shuttered its stores, joining a host of smaller chains and independent stores that have closed in recent years.

Music sales continue to slide due to still-rampant piracy and consumer complaints that prices for recorded music are too high at a time when digital singles can be bought for 99 cents.

A report released earlier this month from Ipsos Insight, a Chicago market research firm, showed that while 51 percent of U.S. consumers age 12 and up bought a CD in the past 6 months, that's down roughly 15 percent from 2002.

The announcement of the Chicago store's closing came on the same day that Virgin America, another affiliate of the Virgin Group, received approval to offer domestic airline service in the U.S. That will complement the service it already to Europe aboard Virgin Atlantic
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Old 05-19-07, 10:50 PM
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I used to work across the street and even then (as a complete dvd and cd addict) never bought anything there. Their prices were outrageous. Good riddance.
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Old 05-20-07, 10:38 AM
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Yeah, they have an amazing selection. To this day you can actually purchase the entire Criterion collection. But even by city prices they charge wayyyy to much. Most people I know went there once; then braved the hike to the Lincoln Park Best Buy.
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Old 05-20-07, 10:53 AM
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Too bad, as I at least liked browsing there and bought something on occasion. Especially too bad that they're going to be replacing it with another clothing store...
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Old 05-20-07, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by starseed1981
Yeah, they have an amazing selection. To this day you can actually purchase the entire Criterion collection. But even by city prices they charge wayyyy to much. Most people I know went there once; then braved the hike to the Lincoln Park Best Buy.
Which one? There are two now. I live close to the Clark Street one.
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Old 05-22-07, 06:30 AM
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In 1992 I went to the Virgin Megastore in Paris and thought I'd give anything to have a store like that near me. 2 years later, they opened one in Sacramento just a few blocks from where I lived at the time. It was a pale imitation of the Paris store though, and just kept going downhill. The giant album covers on the side of the building I think were updated only twice, and eventually the entire second level was closed off! They survived a year or so after that before finally calling it quits, and after more than 2 years their building is still empty. The Best Buy opening nearby must have killed them on prices.

The problem with stores like this is that DVD pricing is very competitive with so many non-specialty stores loss-leadering the new releases. As for music, record labels need to pull their head out of their ass and realize $18.99 is too fucking much for ANY CD! Their sales will continue to go down and piracy will keep going as long as they keep prices the way they are.
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Old 05-22-07, 09:53 AM
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You know, I didn't think about it, but did read that Best Buy was looking to move to North Michigan Avenue. This was probably a pre-emptive shut down.
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Old 05-22-07, 10:05 AM
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It was a GREAT place to browse and kill time during lunch break--but I never bought anything.

As they'll probably just ship inventory to other locations, I'm not optimistic about a clearance sale happening.
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Old 05-22-07, 10:18 AM
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so sad, all these stores like Virgin and Tower that stocked UK CD-singles dropping like dead flies.... oh well. Even the one's that are still open NYC and San Francisco stupidly integrated the single's sections into the album's section - making it near impossible to easily find the latest singles.
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Old 05-22-07, 10:44 AM
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The Virgin in Miami closed about a year ago, I remember going over there and I think what they did was initially offer everything in the store at 25% off, then after X amount of time that was bumped to 50%. I think I picked up a few SACDs and a Criterion. Whatever wasn't sold was distributed among other locations.
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Old 05-22-07, 12:35 PM
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LOL I didn't even know there was a Virgin store here.
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Old 05-22-07, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by bunkaroo
LOL I didn't even know there was a Virgin store here.
Unless you rarely go to Michigan Avenue, how could you miss it?
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