Marbecks quits Auckland music scene after 78 years

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Roger Harper is opening a cafe in Hobson St as his Marbecks store winds down. Photo / Dean Purcell
Roger Harper is opening a cafe in Hobson St as his Marbecks store winds down. Photo / Dean Purcell

One of Auckland's oldest and most well-known music stores is shutting up shop and will today reveal a new-look cafe.

Marbecks Queen's Arcade, in downtown Auckland, will close its doors early next year after 78 years in business.

The move comes as an increase in customers buying music online hits sales.

Marbecks director Roger Harper said the soaring costs of maintaining a store had also hit hard.

"The way people consume music has changed, the way we can deliver it, sell it - that's all changed now."

The company has closed its Rotorua store and Marbecks in Wellington which had operated for 17 years. When the Queen's Arcade store closes, there will be six Marbecks left around the country, and one in Auckland which trades under a different name.

Mr Harper said there was a possibility the store could be shifted to Hobson St - next to a new cafe: Marbecks Kitchen, opening today. The cafe is decorated in all things music.

There are plans to have live bands playing there regularly, although Mr Harper said at the moment there were no plans to sell music there.

"This is the evolution for us," Mr Harper said.

Roger Marbeck, the former owner of Marbecks and grandson of the original owner, said: "It's very sad to see it go. It's been in existence for almost 80 years and is very dear to our family. But the [industry] is a changing scene.

"It's hard to do business in New Zealand because rents are so hard ... it's tough out there for retailers."

Mr Marbeck's grandfather Alfred and his brother-in-law Noel Wade opened the Queen's Arcade shop in 1935. His father, Murray, took over the family business before passing it over to him. Mr Marbeck sold the store in 2006 and is now with Ode Records.

Mr Marbeck said it was a great thing for a young boy to grow up around music and particularly at that store.

"I was the cleaning boy, when I was very small. It was like lots of those family businesses back in those days. It was the golden era.

"My grandfather had a piano there and he sold sheet music. There was a gramophone and then records and later it was cassettes and CDs. Now it's digital. It's just the way things go."

A closing down sale will start next week.

* An earlier version of this story stated that when the Queen's Arcade store closed, there would be no Marbecks stores left in Auckland. This was incorrect as there is a Marbecks store in Browns Bay trading under the name The CD & DVD Store.

- NZ Herald

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