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The Record Bar is a former U.S. retail music/entertainment store chain founded in Durham, NC. The company eventually grew from a single location to 180 stores. One of the largest music retailing chains, it was located primarily in the Southeastern United States. From 1960 until the late 1980s the owners of Record Bar were the (Barrie) Bergman family of Durham, NC. In the mid-to-late 1980s Record Bar began opening large new stores and remodeled Record Bar stores under the Tracks name, to better reflect the changes taking place in retail music merchandising (e.g.- large freestanding "super" stores like Peaches and Tower).
In October 1989 the company was sold to Super Club N.V., a Brussels, Belgium video distribution company, by Barrie and his partners for $92 million. At that time the Record Bar operated 167 stores in the southeastern United States and middle Atlantic states. In the early 1990s Super Club sold Record Bar, Turtle's Records & Tapes and its other U.S. music and video rental acquisitions to Blockbuster Video. Blockbuster converted its music retail outlets to Blockbuster Music stores, ending the Record Bar chain name. As of 2007, no entity using the Record Bar name had a previous affiliation with the Durham NC based chain.
After selling Record Bar, Barrie Bergman and John Hansen purchased Bare Escentuals which was bankrupt. This four store skin care company was consolidated into two stores. Mineral makeup became the focus instead of body lotions. Featured on QVC and twenty-four stores later, Bare Escentuals was rescued from economic ruin and recapitalized for over $200 million 14 years later.
The following is a chronological history of the company.
On September 24, Harry and Bertha Bergman purchase the Record Bar, a single 800 sq ft (74 m2). store in Durham, NC. Gross sales for the first year total $125,000.
In 1962, the Bergmans enlarge the Durham store to 3,300 sq ft (310 m2). to accommodate the growing selection of records. On August 11, 1963 Barrie Bergman marries Arlene Macklin of Chapel Hill, NC and together they open Record Bar's second location, on Henderson St. in downtown Chapel Hill. This store was the relocated Burlington Musicland which they renamed. The Beatles release their first American LP, Meet the Beatles in 1964. Barrie comments: "It didn't just change our business-it changed the world."
On August 14, 1966, Lane Bergman marries Bill Golden, who joins the Record Bar as Director of Advertising and Operations. In September 1967 Record Bar opens its first shopping center store in Raleigh's North Hills Shopping Center. Manager Barrie Bergman states: "The first day in that store we did more business than we'd ever done in either of our other stores." Barrie and Bill are named vice presidents of Record Bar in 1968. At the age of 30, Barrie already has 16 years of experience in the record business. The following year, Rich Gonzalez joins the company as assistant manager of the downtown Durham store. The number of stores has now grown to five, all in North Carolina.
Bill Golden is named Vice President of Finance in 1970. On September 24, exactly 10 years after Mr. and Mrs. B bought the original store, Record Bar #10 (Northgate Mall, Durham) opens. Two years later, annual sales reach $8 million. In 1973, Inventory levels in each store reach the $60,000 mark. Annual sales pass $13 million. Record Bar opens 20 new stores. First convention held February 27–28, 1974 in Atlanta's Hilton Inn. Frank Zappa, Harry Chapin, George Jones and Tammy Wynette attend. Average store gross rises to $356,000, with annual sales at $25 million.
Barrie named NARM (National Association of Record Merchandisers) Merchandiser of the Year in 1975. Home office expands. Classical News and the Connoisseur Club debut. Second annual convention held in Los Angeles. Guests include Boz Scaggs, Andy Williams, Martin Mull, and Kris Kristofferson. 1976: the First Hilton Head Convention. Theme is "Gimme Five" with $5 million holiday sales goal. First "Accessory Explosion" promotion held. Fleetwood Mac in-store at store #3 in Chapel Hill, NC. In October 1977, Record Bar opens superstore Tracks in Norfolk, VA. Company now has 75 stores, with $27 million in sales. New store prototype debuts at #90, Charleston, SC. Barrie named "Personality of the Year" by Music Retailer magazine. The following year, Grease and Saturday Night Fever soundtracks spur sales of $42 million, with 2 stores topping the $1 million mark. Off the Record, the company newsletter, goes monthly. Convention is held in Nashville with AC/DC and the Oak Ridge Boys headlining. New candy bar style logo appears. In 1979, Barrie and Barry Grieff found City Lights label, with headquarters in New York City. Barrie becomes youngest president in history of NARM. Position of National Supervisor is created. Convention theme is "Everybody is a Star."
Record Bar opens its 100th store in Greenville, SC's Haywood Mall, in 1980. 20th Anniversary Convention theme is "Record Bar Goes Platinum," highlighted by presentation of first Bertha K. Bergman Award, given to Jackie Brown. Sales climb to $56 million. Blank videotape appears in stores for the first time. In the midst of an economic recession, Record Bar opens 34 new stores in 1981. Dolphin Records is launched, with Brice Street's Rise Up In The Night the first release. First Surf-About held. Record World salutes Record Bar in special 40 page section. Convention theme: "Record Bar Goes to Summer Camp."
By 1982, Record Bar now employed over 1300 people, with 140 stores in the chain. First employee handbook, The Inside Straight, is published. Video games are introduced in stores. Five-Year Plan unveiled. "Summer Summit" Convention, with the first Vendor Day. Christmas holiday sales best ever. The following year, Ron Cruickshank named President and CEO. Barrie becomes Chairman of the Board: Mr. B Chairman Emeritus. Record Bar-Licorice Pizza Manager Exchange. First Napoleon's Grocery opens in Charlotte. Thriller Christmas, with sales up 14% over previous December. "Welcome to Durham" Convention. 84 in '83. In 1984, the first shipments leave midAMERICA Distributors, Inc., Record Bar's new video distribution company. New store prototype opens in Colorado Springs' Citadel Mall (#110). Tracks Video opens in Virginia Beach. Second Napoleon's Grocery opens, Durham, NC. $100 million sales goal surpassed, with 17 stores at $1 million plus annually.
Record Bar buys Licorice Pizza, bringing the total number of stores under the Record Bar umbrella to 194. New 84,000 sq ft (7,800 m2). distribution center in Durham opens in September. Bill Golden named to NARM's board of directors. Personal Development Lab opens at home office. Record Bar donates more than $400,000 in advertising and promotions to African relief efforts. First joint Record Bar-Licorice Pizza Convention in Hilton Head, SC is last company convention. Entertainment includes Stanley Jordan and John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band.
Convention in September features Tony Robbins seminar with firewalk in hotel parking lot. The convention received a great deal of publicity over the firewalking exercise. The convention was subsequently mentioned in the book Firewalking and Religious Healing: The Anastenaria of Greece and the American Firewalking Movement by Loring M. Danforth, published by Princeton University Press, in the following passage on page 255:
One of Robbins' most publicized seminars was held at Hilton Head, South Carolina, in September 1985 as part of the annual convention of Record Bar, Inc., the second largest retailer of records and tapes in the United States. The seminar, for which Robbins received seventy-five thousand dollars, was part of the company's "human systems" program for developing its workers' potential to the fullest. As the chairman of the board of Record Bar told a reporter, "If you can walk on hot coals, it's fairly easy to sell a record." (Handleman 1985)
Halloween "Scratch and Win" promotion features first extensive Record Bar television promotional campaign.
1985 proved a crucial year for the company. Its new distribution center previously referred to did not function properly due to poor IT systems, almost taking the company under in the prime Christmas selling system.
In 1986, the third Tracks Music and Video store managed by Michael Vanderslice opens in Hampton Virginia. The store grossed over $1.3 million exceeding the average store volume by over 50%. Based on this successful store opening, numerous other Tracks Music and Video stores were added leveraging video rental and music sales under one roof. Previous Record Bar stores were primarily within mall locations whereas Tracks stores were free-standing. These free-standing stores were also larger averaging 5,000 square feet (460 m2) versus 2,200 square feet (200 m2) for most mall stores. The following year, Record Bar was sold to Super Club N.V., a European video distribution company, which also purchased Turtles Music and Video, another Southeastern US music and entertainment retailer. Operations were consolidated in Atlanta, Georgia, and all North Carolina office functions were eliminated.
Super Club N.V. sells Record Bar and its other music retailing acquisitions to Blockbuster Video. Blockbuster rebrands all stores as Blockbuster Music, ending the Record Bar chain.
- Super Club Plans To Buy Georgia-Based Video Chain, Wall Street Journal, October 9, 1989, pg. A10.
- Through The Years: Provided by company to attendees at 25th Anniversary convention, Hilton Head, SC.. BarrieBergman. Accessed November 9, 2007.
- "Record Bar: The 25 Year 'American Dream'". Record Bar supplement. Billboard Magazine. New York: Billboard Publications, Inc. December 8, 1984. p. RB3.
- "Record Bar: The 25-Year American Dream". Billboard. 96 (60). 1984.
- Esposito, Cheryl (11 April 2008). "Leading Conversations: Confessions of a Rock n' Roll CEO". VoiceAmerica. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
- "Record Bar Sets Licorice Expansion Plan". Billboard. 97 (21). May 25, 1985. p. 24. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Goodman, Fred (October 5, 1985). "Licorice Pizza Enjoys Smooth Transition: Record Bar Takeover Seen Posing Few Problems". Billboard. 98 (40). p. 18. Alternate Link via ProQuest.
- Gellene, Denise (April 23, 1986). "Licorice Pizza Chain Will Be Sold to American Can Unit". Los Angeles Times.
- "Blockbuster Completes Super Club Acquisition". Orlando Sentinel. 23 November 1993. Retrieved 24 February 2011.