Marbecks music store turns 80

Iconic Auckland music store Marbecks is celebrating its 80th birthday this month.

The record shop has been a fixture of Queens Arcade for most of those decades, enduring the Great Depression, the Queen St riot and the Auckland power crisis, along with a lifetime of change in the music world, but it has remained a Kiwi institution.

"You know your Bing Crosbys, your Glenn Millers, all through that period, and then you went through the big bands, and then of course Elvis arrived – that was the revolution," says owner Roger Marbeck. "Then you had The Beatles and then The Rolling Stones. We've gone through all the revolutions."

It's the grandfather of Kiwi record stores. Marbecks was opened in 1934 by musicians Alfred and Eileen Marbeck.

"You'd pick your piece of sheet music, just like you'd pick a single or whatever, and take it and have a listen," says Mr Marbeck. "You'd take it over to Alfie and he'd sit down at the piano and play it, and the funny thing is we've still got customers who remember that."

Mr Marbeck is Alfie's grandson and the store's current owner. It's now in its fourth generation, with Mr Marbeck's teenage son joining the family business, working for the music catalogue online.

Across its 80 years, Marbecks has evolved with each shift of the music industry.

"Sheet music, wax cylinders, 78s, then you had the LPs. Then there were cassette tapes and a few things in between. Then came along CDs, and they just took over."

Marbecks became so popular it had to open a separate store in the arcade due to customer demand.

"We're the place where you source all those strange, rare gems that you can't find anywhere else," says Mr Marbeck. "We always get people running in the door, 'Have you got this?' And they seem surprised that we've got it."

Mr Marbeck sold the store in 2007 but bought it back last year, much to the delight of the Marbecks regulars.

He has successfully endured the move to digital, as well as critics declaring the music industry dead. But he says Marbecks is proof people still enjoy buying records.

"Vinyl has gone through a resurgence. It's for the people that really, really appreciate music and like the occasion of putting on a vinyl, an LP, and then turning it over and looking at the sleeve notes. It's like a massive great coffee table book. It's an occasion."

It's an occasion that has kept Marbecks customers coming back for eight decades.

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source: newshub archive