Bill Kennedy has done all the right things to keep BK Music open in the waning era of independent music stores. He sells vinyl records, along with CDs, shirts and movies. He staffs his store with courteous music enthusiasts, who burn custom CDs for customers who want out-of-print music.
He also had history on his side: BK Music, which opened in 2001, sits in a spot that’s sold music for more than two decades, in the former home of Peaches Records and Tapes on Midlothian Turnpike.
While he’s stuck it out, Kennedy has watched the area’s long-promised revitalization happen beyond the store’s large windows. Across the street, a huge Kroger has risen where Cloverleaf Mall used to be. A line of cars snaked around a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts during its grand opening last week.
BK Music has been caught in the wave of revitalization — but not in the way Kennedy wanted. The building’s landlord, the Bond Co., informed him a couple of months ago that it was exercising a “redevelopment clause” in the lease that means he’s being kicked out of his space, Kennedy says.
The clause allows the landlord to relocate a business elsewhere in the strip mall, Kennedy says. But the new location he was offered is at the back of the mall, next to a building that’s sat vacant for decades. “I just couldn’t pull the trigger to move back there,” he says. So he terminated his lease.
Kennedy plans to close his store Saturday.
“I was naive enough to think that making my payments on time for the last 13 years would give me some credence to be able to enjoy the redevelopment of the area,” he says. “But I learned the hard lesson that landlords don’t give a shit.”
The Chicago-based Bond Co. declined to comment.
BK Music closes Feb. 8, but don’t mark it down yet as the day the music died. Kennedy is scouting new locations. “I’ve always enjoyed this,” says Kennedy, a 40-year veteran of the music industry. “I think I’ll stay south of the river. There are a few places that look inviting.”