Amoeba Music needs help.
The largest independent record store in the country – a claim supported by Rolling Stone – is struggling to make it through the pandemic and has turned to its legion of fans and loyal customers for help.
Founders Dave Prinz and Marc Weinstein launched a fundraiser with a target of nearly half a million dollars – money they say they need to pay their bills while also trying to take care of their staff.
“We have weathered many storms: 911, recessions, the Internet, downloading and streaming,” Prinz and Weinstein wrote on GoFundMe. “But we don’t know that we can weather the COVID-19 storm.
The fundraiser is nearly halfway there, and that money has been used to “bridge the gap,” helping the store take care of its employees, they said.
There are three Amoeba Music record stores in California, and all three have been closed since mid-March. With no clear date to reopen, the stores have no way to generate income.
“We’re exploring every possible means of support, including federal and local grants and loans. But these funds are not guaranteed to come in, and they won’t meet the needs of our short-term future.”
Prinz and Weinstein opened up the first Amoeba Music record store in Berkeley, California, 30 years ago. They expanded to San Francisco in 1997 and then Hollywood in 2001.
Their stores have hosted big names such as Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, Brian Wilson, and even Sir Paul McCartney. Many now big-name artists such as the White Stripes and the Black Keys caught big breaks playing at their stores as well.
“When the music’s over / turn out the lights,” a Twitter account for The Doors tweeted on Thurday. “Let’s not let the lights go out on music. Let’s do our share to keep music sanctuaries alive. By shopping @amoebamusic, you are helping to keep an iconic store afloat.”
The actress Juliette Lewis tweeted that she donated. “Save Amoeba Music!! One of the last great music/entertainment treasures in Cali,” she said.
California is currently under a statewide shelter in place order, with non-essential businesses being forced to shut their doors. Gov. Gavin Newsom has not given a clear timeline to reopen the state’s economy, instead pushing to expand testing to contain the virus.
California currently has at least 37,788 “presumptive positive” coronavirus cases and 1,440 deaths.