For 29 years, Off The Record, 901 Summitview Ave., has been providing music lovers of all genres a local place to listen, peruse and buy LPs, casettes, CDs, posters, T-shirts and more of their favorite musicians and bands.

Courtesy: Off The Record

It was with a heavy heart that I received the news that they soon will close their doors for good.

A source close to Rich Koch, who opened the original store and has operated it to this day, told me that all of the store's employees have been notified about the decision as Koch heads into retirement.

Most of the inventory in the shop will be sold to customers as O.T.R. liquidates its assets.

I shudder to think how much time and money I have spent in that store over the years.  I fondly remember walking from 64th all the way down to Ninth and Summitview with a buddy of mine before we were old enough to have a drivers license to just browse through the stacks of vinyl LPs and 45s  After a few years of success, the store knocked out a wall that was adjacent to a yogurt shop and nearly doubled its size. Then came the advent of the digital age and the ushering in of the compact disc.

Off The Record was always a great place to get the latest album at a discounted price on the day it was released. I recall as a young broadcaster doing many live remotes from there at midnight for the release of the latest offering from the likes of Garth Brooks, Billy Ray Cyrus and Guns 'N Roses.

Alas, time marches on.  Selling hard copies of singles and albums has become a much more difficult task as consumers can now download digital versions of songs and albums right from their computers or phones, thus making the old-fashioned record store almost obsolete, a la` the drive-in movie theater, etc.
Thane Phelan, owner of the Music Station from 1990-99 said, "Actually, it's amazing that Yakima had an independent music store for this long."
Despite the changing landscape Koch and his employees, many of whom worked there for long stretches of time, were always changing with the times to provide music lovers exactly what they wanted.

As the days and weeks progress, surely we will hear more about any sales or celebrations that O.T.R. may have planned and we will keep you posted.

With that, I'd like to take this space to personally thank Rich Koch and his partners over these past 29 years for providing all of us in Yakima the quintessential American record store experience.  You and your store will always be missed and never forgotten. Like the shop's slogan -- "Where The Music Matters" -- O.T.R. will be the place where the music still does, and will always, matter.