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Island's Last Record Store Closes its Doors

An exit interview with Michael Barnes, who has closed his longtime Martha's Vineyard record shop after 19 years in business.

Michael Barnes on the last day of business at his longtime Martha's Vineyard record store, Aboveground Records. (Louisa Hufstader photo)
Michael Barnes on the last day of business at his longtime Martha's Vineyard record store, Aboveground Records. (Louisa Hufstader photo)
When Michael Barnes started Aboveground Records in 1995, he was just 21. 

Nearly 19 years later, Barnes — now a 39-year-old father of two — closed the doors of his Edgartown Triangle shop for the last time Saturday.

As shoppers browsed elbow to elbow through the bins of vinyl and CDs and well-wishers streamed through the store to bid Barnes farewell, Patch grabbed a few minutes of his time for an exit interview.

Patch: When did you open Aboveground Records?
Michael Barnes: June 17, 1995 was the first day.

Patch: Why did you decide to open a record store?
Michael Barnes: It was all I knew. I'd been working in record stores since I was a teenager, on the Vineyard and in North Carolina. It was that or nothing.

Patch: Why did you pick Edgartown?
Michael Barnes: I got a cheap rent on the building (then owned by his father, who later sold it to him) and the rest is history.

Patch: Why are you leaving retail?
Michael Barnes: I don't want conversations to end with "That will be 15 dollars and ... "

Patch: Who's coming into this space after you close?
Michael Barnes: A tattoo shop: MV Tattoo, Mark Fuentes.

Patch: What are you going to do next?
Michael Barnes:  I'm going to help him switch this store over, and I'm going to build a rental apartment upstairs.

Patch: And this summer?
Michael Barnes: Travel with my family, hopefully.

Patch: The Island has seen several other record stores come and go. Yours was the only one left. Will there ever be another one?
Michael Barnes: I managed to make it work for a while, so somebody else could be able to do it too. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Want to get your hands on an Aboveground Records T-shirt? Barnes sold out, but told customers he's printing one last run and will announce on his Facebook page when they are available later this year: facebook.com/pages/Aboveground-Records.

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