Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Marbecks closing/opening....

photo: Material Creative

From design company Material Creative, via Twitter: "@MaterialC: The new @Marbecks_co_nz cafe on Hobson st is coming along." They suggest it will be open this week.

The original Marbecks store in Queens Arcade is closing down (after 77 years), around March 2013, confirmed by staff They also told me the Hobson street site (near the Heritage Hotel, ex Farmers bldg) will be a cafe only at this stage, no decision has been made on whether to include a music store there. They also said the builders were still in the new cafe site, so it was unlikely to open this week. Marbecks head office is located in Hobson st. [note: Marbecks didn't close, but instead sold the Queens Arcade store back to Roger Marbeck in April 2013 - it is still open, see below].

The original Marbecks store in Queens Arcade has recently seen the consolidation of the Marbecks Classical store, which shut down and relocated to a corner of the existing store.

Roger Marbeck sold the family business to the CD and DVD Store in late 2006, and they changed the name of their stores to the Marbecks brand. They also opened several destination stores, in Dunedin and Palmerston North.

"... Yorkshireman Alfred Marbeck was a music fan who arrived from Sheffield and formed the store in 1934 with his brother in-law Noel Wade.

Wade left and Marbeck's sons Murray and Haydn joined the store in 1947. Haydn left the company in 1990 and was replaced by Murray's son Roger, who focused on popular music.For eight years during the 1990s Marbecks developed a large-scale outlet in Queen St, which later closed...

...Roger Marbeck bought Ode Records and is now operating in the wholesale side of the business." Source: NZ Herald.

Marbecks  shut its Rotorua store in July this year, the owner of that franchise noting that "nationwide the Marbecks chain had gone from 45 to six (soon-to-be five) stores in the past four years."

The Lambton Quay store shut in April, after trading for 17 years (previously as The CD & DVD Store). Marbecks closed its retail outlet at Wellington Airport in January.

ADDED: Local musician and former Marbecks employee Dudley Benson weighed in on Twitter on the Marbecks closure of Queens Arcade: "Marbecks - so sad, so inevitable. I worked there when those Christian fundamentalist capitalists bought a great store & began f#cking it up ... Now thanks to their atrocious 'rebranding' etc people have lost their jobs and we're minus some outstanding knowledge and NZ music history."

ADDED Nov 28: NZ Herald has picked up the story, with the inaccurate headline "Marbecks quits Auckland music scene after 78 years". Marbecks Browns Bay is still open, and is branded as Marbecks (not the CD and DVD Store, as the Herald's correction at the bottom of their story suggests - it looks like they got this information by looking it up on Google Street View, except the photo of the Browns Bay store is from 2009, before all their stores rebranded. I asked Marbecks via Twitter if the Browns Bay store was branded as Marbecks and they said yes it was).

.NZH reports the Marbecks Cafe in Hobson St is opening today, and the closing down sale at Queens Arcade starts next week.

ADDED Nov 29: Marbecks have released a statement via their Facebook page (with photos of the new cafe), from boss Roger Harper, have posted it below...

ADDED Dec 2: via Twitter, I saw this from @stevegallagher: Judging by the "last Christmas sale ever" signs, Marbecks Dunedin appears to be closing down.

I asked Marbecks about this via Twitter they responded: "no, not closing down, there will be changes to the store increasing cafe/food offer & reducing retail footprint."They will retain some music retail, and up to the middle of next year they'll be getting.lots of stock from other stores.

Marbecks are also appealing for former Marbecks/CD and DVD Store staff  via the Marbecks Facebook page to get in touch if they want some work over the holidays, as the Queens Arcade store has been overwhelmed with customers since the news was announced.

ADDED Jan 7, 2013: TV3 covered the closure of Marbecks Queens Arcade on their evening news on Jan 3, watch the story here. "The owners of the old store say closing down is a commercial reality. People get their music online now, so they're going to focus more on developing their cafes. “It's just change, you know,” says Marbecks managing director Roger Harper. “Things have evolved over time. We've had a great run in the music business, but that business model just can't be sustained.”

Otago Daily Times reports Marbecks Dunedin is shifting its focus away from music and books to the cafe side of its operation. Store manager is David James, ex Dead Flowers.

ADDED March 12 2013: Marbecks have announced they have started a 20% off everything sale at Queens Arcade: from their Facebook page... "Marbecks Queens Arcade as we know it will be closing at the end of March, we hope to retain a small footprint in Queens Arcade - but the range and selection we have enjoyed for so many decades will be a thing of the past. Get in quick to enjoy 20% off store wide before we close the doors - discount is off the marked price, and excludes customer orders, gift cards and online purchases."

ADDED April 10 2013: Marbecks offline, Queens Arcade revived by Roger Marbeck
Marbecks announced that it was selling its Queens Arcade store back to Roger Marbeck, who will run it as a specialist store focussing on Classical and jazz, retaining the classical staff only.

ADDED July 3 2014: Marbecks Queens Arcade expands, My Generation Music for sale, Everyman Records shuts
ADDED: Another photo from Material Creative posted Friday Nov 23, of the floor at the new Marbecks Cafe in Hobson st...

photo: Material Creative

Added Nov 25: I went for a walk down Hobson St and took some photos of the new Marbeck cafe. Entrance is down an alley off Hobson st, cafe is below street level.

Standing outside Heritage Hotel, looking up Hobson st. X marks Marbecks Cafe entrance

Had a look thru the door...

On Hobson st, their signs advertising the new cafe coming soon

From Marbecks Facebook page: "Marbecks Queens Arcade - a great legacy. Marbecks Kitchen - a new beginning.
The recent news that we are closing our Queens Arcade store at some stage early next year has natu
rally caused a lot of discussion in the market, and sadness on the part on our many loyal customers, many of whom fondly remember purchasing their first record at “Marbecks Queens Arcade”. But “Quitting the Auckland Music Scene” as the NZ Herald [28Nov12] put it – absolutely not! You’ve got to love the media, they just write what they want. We hope that we will remain part of the Auckland & New Zealand music scene for many years to come, just in a different way.

You can imagine that making the decision to close the store was an extremely difficult one, and only made after trying a number of options and considering many others. I could write an extremely long article, a book even, of all the changes & challenges that we have faced over the past decade as our industry has undergone significant change. I have read so many “The Day the Music Died” stories over those years, that I have no desire to add another one. The fact is our whole industry from artist, to music company, to music lover, has dramatically changed over the past few years, from piracy to itunes, to spotify, the way that we discover, enjoy and consume music has changed forever, and no longer supports the business model that the specialist music retailers thrived in for the past 50 years. 

As someone else in the music industry once said “Mistakes, I’ve made a few...” and yes we have, as it seems every armchair expert/blogger seems very keen to point out to us. Of course we’d do things differently if we had our time over again, but as passionate as we are about music & our customers, i suspect there is nothing we could have done to effectively combat, arguably, the largest technology shift there has been in history. 

Over the years, we’ve loved every moment of the music business, our wonderful customers, and of course the music itself, from classical to country, to punk, to hardcore and everything in between; in short, we’ve had a great ride. The Marbeck family, their wonderful business and store, their legendary customer service & knowledge, will live long in the memory long after the store is closed early next year. 

However, sad though closing Queens Arcade is, it is by no means the end of the Marbecks story. In the past few years we have begun to open cafes – Lambton Quay in 1998, Wall St Dunedin in 2009, and Palmerston North in 2010. This week we have just opened our first Auckland cafe in Hobson St [next to the Heritage Hotel], “Marbecks Kitchen” and even though we do say so ourselves, we’re rather pleased with it. It’s a great space, feels good, and has many connections to our music heritage – come in and check out our “Nod to Bob” collage wall. We’re very positive about Marbecks future in hospitality. Many of the emotions evoked by music are also evoked by food. Good music and good food are wonderful partners, and we believe that our passion & creativity for music will hold us in good stead in the hospitality business. Come in and enjoy Hobson Street, or any of our other cafes. We love great coffee, Supreme , mmmmmm, as much as great music, we hope you do too. 

We may well keep retailing music for many years to come, either through stores or online at and yes we do have our own digital store at We’ll keep looking for a business model that works in this brave new world, but if we need to change, we will. 

In the meantime, if you’re in Auckland [or visiting] get down to Queens Arcade to talk the talk with the most knowledgeable music staff in NZ, or to bag a bargain, or just for one last time pick up a great CD or LP [somewhat ironically vinyl is the fastest growing part of the business] – some of our wonderful CDs & DVDs may never see the light of day in New Zealand again. That is sad. Thanks.

Roger Harper - Marbecks

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