Two main street businesses are shutting down

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Aaron Farmer | afarmer@radford.edu

Two local businesses in the city of Radford began the new year by announcing their plans to close up shop. The owners of both establishments have attributed the decision to online competition as well as big-box retailers.

Barry’s Music on Main Street closed its doors on Feb. 24, and Wade’s supermarket in west Radford has decided to close at the end of March.

“After 24 years it’s has become time to pull the plug and call it a day. Many thanks to all my customers and friends in the last almost quarter century,” said Barry Roberts, owner of Barry’s Music, in a post on social media after announcing the store’s closing.

The store’s closing not only means a longer drive to Christiansburg or Blacksburg for musical instruments or accessories – it also means the end of rentals for local venues and churches that relied on Roberts’ store for PA systems and higher-end equipment.

In an interview with The Roanoke Times, Roberts explained that the low prices offered by online retailers left brick-and-mortar stores like Barry’s Music unable to compete.

The lower prices and wider selection of instruments offered by online outlets have hit many local music stores with insurmountable competition even in areas where, at one time, they may have been the only option for instruments within miles.

Even Best Buy, a sizeable electronics chain outlet, put an end to their “store within a store” musical instruments department after only eight years of experimentation in the market.

Greg Wade, owner of Wade’s supermarket, told The Roanoke Times that his store in Radford got caught in “a war between the competition across the bridge,” and that the company has decided to close in order to focus on its Christiansburg and Dublin stores.

Competition from big-box retailers like Walmart has been cited as the reason for many local, mom-and-pop store closings in small towns – but even Walmart has decided to shift focus online.

Even as the third largest employer in the world, falling right below the Chinese military and the U.S. Department of Defense, Walmart announced the closing of 154 storefronts in the United States earlier in January, citing a decision to focus more resources into online commerce and site-to-store pickup services for customers.

Many of the employees from the Radford Wade’s will hopefully be transferred to the remaining Christiansburg and Dublin stores, and Wade said he is grateful for the community support the store has received – but he is also sad to leave the city.

However, both locations on Main Street will be available for rent, and with new service-oriented ventures like restaurants and exercise studios – businesses targeted on the college market and almost immune to online competition – growing steadily in the area, the vacancies are likely to be filled fast.

For more information on local business in the city, contact the Radford Chamber of Commerce at radfordchamber@gmail.com, or the Small Business Development Center at Radford University at sbdc@radford.edu.