How Sunrise Records became the last music chain standing

By Patricia D'Cunha

In today’s Big Story Podcast, most of the large record chains of the heyday of physical music are gone now. If the chains haven’t vanished entirely, most of their stores have, and the last few are disappearing one by one. But somehow, not Sunrise Records. In recent years, the chain has been expanding across Canada, buying up Canadian HMV outlets and now boasts more than 80 stores and hundreds of employees.

Richard Trapunski is the digital editor at Billboard Canada. He wrote a piece for The Walrus about Sunrise Records and its ability to thrive in the streaming age.

“A lot of the people who are still buying vinyl are not necessarily older people who still have their record player and are buying albums by the Beatles or classic rock bands. A lot of them are Gen Z and are young listeners,” said Trapunski.  

What made Sunrise the last Canadian music chain standing, even as music industry revenues crashed, streaming services swallowed the market and much of physical retail in general began struggling? The result is a fascinating look at what distressed businesses are worth, and what consumers really want from their retailers.

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