Independent Records closes its downtown Colorado Springs store after 38 years

Independent Records & Video has lifted the needle on its long-playing downtown location.

The Colorado Springs retailer has closed its nearly 7,000-square-foot store at 123 E. Bijou St., where it’s operated since 1980. Downtown inventory will be moved to Independent Records’ 3030 E. Platte Ave. location, which will continue to sell CDs, videos, vinyl albums, clothing, marijuana smoking paraphernalia, toys, posters and books, among other items.

Independent Records also will continue to operate its stores on North Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs and in Fountain and Pueblo. A west side store closed last year.

Lewis Lambert, who co-owns Independent Records with his older brother, Orville, and a minority partner, said Wednesday that downtown sales weren’t doing well.

"You’ve got to generate a bottom-line, break-even point, and enough sales to justify the store, and this store wasn’t being justified," Lambert said. "It was a financial decision."

On Wednesday, employees packed remaining video games, movies and other items into boxes, while removing display materials from walls and shelves. A few passers-by seemed surprised by the store’s closing, including one customer who showed up to sell a used item.

But the retailer’s departure from downtown has been in the works for some time.

A year ago, a Denver investment group contracted to buy the building at 123 E. Bijou, which Independent Records owns.

At that time, the buyers submitted a proposal to city planners that called for gutting the building and turning it into a food hall – a multi-user venue for food vendors, coffee shops, florists and other businesses. They also planned to add a second-floor bar and outdoor decks.

That proposal, however, was withdrawn a month after it was submitted, said Ryan Tefertiller, the city’s urban planning manager.

Even so, the Denver group, which was identified last year in its city submittal as Marble Acquisitions, completed the building’s purchase Wednesday, Lambert said. A purchase price wasn’t immediately available.

Plans for the building are unknown. Two Marble Acquisition representatives didn’t return telephone calls Wednesday. Crosbie Real Estate Group of Denver is marketing the building and an online brochure describes it as part of a "hot downtown Colorado Springs location."

Tefertiller, who typically hears about downtown projects, said he didn’t know what the new owners have in store for the building. The city’s form-based zoning code for downtown, however, allows wide latitude for the building’s use and it could be converted easily into a restaurant, offices or other uses, he said.

After 38 years, Lambert said it’s bittersweet to leave downtown.

"Downtown, within the last half decade, has definitely exploded," he said. "All you’ve got to do is count the cranes. There’s finally a residential response to downtown, which has always been highly needed."

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