April 16, 2014

Life in Williston

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Daddy’s closing spawns questions

Nov. 17, 2011

By Neel Tandan

 

One headline regarding the recent and very abrupt closing of all 12 Daddy’s Junky Music stores across New England read, “The gig is up for Daddy’s.” Another, less clever one, stated: “Daddy’s Junky Music ends on a sour note after 39 years.”

For those unaware of the existence of a Daddy’s Junkie Music store in Williston, it was located in Maple Tree Place — on the backside of the Majestic 10 movie theater (maybe you passed it on the way to pick up your morning rocket fuel from Starbucks). Either way, the music chain, which began in New Hampshire in 1972, closed all of its stores on Oct. 26 — leaving many customers and employees with their mouths agape.

I was no less shocked at the news and could hardly believe my eyes when I drove by the darkened storefront and saw the covered up windows, and a dumpster piled high with discarded fixtures and splintered wood. I was also a little upset, too — seeing as I had purchased an electric guitar from Daddy’s no more than a month ago that included a fairly hefty guarantee. On top of that, I was encouraged to buy an accessory card for quote, unquote, “future savings.” Either the employees were left in the dark on this or they were gouging me good. I like to think the latter, and after reading some of the testimonials by lamenting customers, loyal ex-employees and even the seemingly bewildered founder, Fred Bramante, this appears likely.

So, who’s to blame? Unfortunately some of the signs are pointing to a familiar and ubiquitous culprit of the 21st Century: the dreaded Internet. It’s no joking matter, I suppose, and with Border’s recently being ousted by what some called a too-little-too-late attempt to convert to the new age of cyber-shopping, it is clear that the perp isn’t shying away from the bigger fish. Maybe someone should start devising viruses to plague these faceless servers into closure, like the Luddites of the 18th Century — that would be an interesting novel.

It is interesting to note that earlier this year, however, Daddy’s founder said that the company had planned to only close a few of its locations (the ones that didn’t work in its brick and mortar business model) and keep the others open. It didn’t become clear that all stores would close, and under “sour” circumstances until, well, they did. Legal issues were cited as the cause for the complete closure and a default to the tune of about $3 million.

GE Capital, one of the financers of the company, took possession of the stores remaining inventory — and its 52 full-time workers and 14-part-timers bit the dust. Some customers who had instruments under repair at one of the stores didn’t even have a chance to retrieve them. Likewise, those with goods on layaway or with an item on order, have been scrambling to figure out the next step in gaining some compensation (answers remain scarce).

I guess in the bigger scheme, it’s another fallen soldier to the merciless Maple Tree Place, where stores come and go with the seasons. What happened to that wine store, anyway? I mean, if Ben and Jerry’s wasn’t turning a profit there, I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised. We’ll see what’s to come in the future with the brick-and-mortar — hopefully, something with some stability.

Neel Tanden is a lifelong Williston resident who graduated from the University of Vermont in 2010.

 

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