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After 25 yrs. Platterpus Records closing

Platterpus Records located on Elm Street in Westfield is closing its doors later this month. Reminder Publications photo by Katelyn Gendron-List
By Katelyn Gendron-List

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD When a customer walks into Elm Street's Platterpus Records, they are immediately greeted with a welcoming smile by owner Dave Witthaus. Here there are no employees wearing cotton-and-polyester uniforms with tacky plastic nametags, color-coded displays or corporate-compiled mixed CDs playing through the sound system. There's just Witthaus, clad in khaki cargo shorts and off-white t-shirt, sipping a large cup of coffee as he amps up the volume on the stores speakers to better hear his vast collection of classic rock.

But after 25 years the music lovers of Westfield will have to do without Platterpus Records. Come Aug. 25 as the store is closing it's doors and moving to the Hampshire Mall in Hadley.

"Poor sales in the first four months of 2007 convinced me it was time for a change, time to again invest some money, effort and energy in the business," Witthaus said. "Circumstances here made me realize I should put that money, energy and effort into something new, someplace new."

Witthaus stated that sales have been down for record stores nationwide since the year 2000, when people's ability to burn CDs became both accessible and popular. He added that pre-2000, when a new CD release would come out, six of every 10 customers would buy the album. Now one customer will buy the album and burn copies for everyone else.

Witthaus said that downtown Westfield is also "taking a different turn and moving away from retail."

"You see more insurance companies and lawyers taking storefront locations," Witthaus said. "No retail can survive in a vacuum. People have to come out of [one] store and say 'hey there's a record store over there, let's go in.' Nobody window shops for insurance."

Customers like Mike Cortas, who has been frequenting Platterpus Records since he was nine-years-old and now brings his daughter into the store, told Reminder Publications that he is "sad to see the only record store in Westfield leave."

"There's just something about being in a local record store," he added.

The Elm Street store is filled with a majority of CDs and records with some other merchandise such as stickers, t-shirts and posters of popular artists. But Witthaus said the new store will be geared more towards the "lifestyle products" rather than CDs.

While Witthaus stated that he had looked at another space to move the store within Westfield, he was unable to commit to the 10-year lease that the landlord required.

Witthaus said that the increased Hampshire Mall traffic of three million people per year will help to generate new cliental as well keep existing customers.

"Platterpus Records is a very much welcomed and a nice compliment to the customer base, for the college student, younger and older patrons who are music lovers, [they] can find records and CDs that Target and Best Buy don't carry," Lynn Brunelle, marketing director for the Hampshire Mall said.

But even with the exciting prospect of moving and enhancing his new store, Witthaus said that he is very sad to be leaving Westfield as the "residents of the city have been unbelievably great."

"Don't think of this as another business not being able to 'make it' in downtown Westfield," Witthaus said. "Downtown has unique challenges and problems for sure. I'm leaving downtown Westfield because I'm in a changing industry and need the cooperation, help and, most of all, understanding that an experienced mall management company can provide."

According to Witthaus the store will be honoring all gift certificates and encourages people to use them before the closing on Aug. 25. However he also said gift certificates can also be redeemed at Night Owl Records in Easthampton, or at the new store in Hadley, which will open on Sept. 2.

For more information call Platterpus Records at 562-0883.