I have a short piece in the latest Texas Monthly on the sale of Hasting’s, the music and entertainment store chain that was prominent in many small towns in Texas and the Midwest. The Amarillo-based chain was bought out recently by a New Jersey financier. The sale brought back memories of my adolescence and the role that Hasting’s played in my musical awakening.
The College Station of my late-seventies adolescence had its share of record shops—mall mainstays like Musicland and mom-and-pops that came and went. But Hastings Entertainment was a destination. Its megastore in the Culpepper Plaza strip center, a short bike ride from my home, became the place to while away summer afternoons and shed discretionary income in proportions that only a teenager with part-time employment as a dishwasher could justify. With few other financial responsibilities, I quickly established a pattern of browsing, planning, and then bingeing as each paycheck hit the bank. Sometimes I spent close to two weeks’ worth of wages in a single day buying the latest albums from Styx or Foreigner or Rush.
So a lump rose in my throat when I heard in mid-July that Amarillo’s Marmaduke family had sold the Hastings chain to the New Jersey merchandising mogul Joel Weinshanker for a measly $21 million. The inevitable move marks a big fall from the heady days of the nineties, when the Marmadukes’ retail expertise was sought after by Walmart and Hastings first went public, with visions of opening as many as five hundred stores.
If you subscribe to the print edition, check out the “Things Acquired” column on page 22. You’ll see some of the albums I bought at Hasting’s in College Station back in the day.