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Independents like Easy Street find it hard to hang on in booming Seattle neighborhoods

Easy Street Records will be closing its lower Queen Anne location on Jan. 18. (Image courtesy Facebook - Easy Street)

Many likely read the headline of Seattle’s Easy Street Records closing one of its locations as another sign of the failure of the record sale industry, but owner Matt Vaughan said it actually had more to do with a booming real estate market in the South Lake Union area.

“Really it just comes down to economics and the commercial rent boom that’s happening from South Lake Union to Queen Anne,” said Vaughan in an appearance on KIRO Radio’s Andrew Walsh Show.

Vaughan announced the closure of the lower Queen Anne Easy Street location at 20 Mercer on the company’s blog, Wednesday.

Diamond Parking, the company that owns the property, was looking for a tenant to sign a 10-year lease and while Easy Street had a great 2012, Vaughan didn’t feel comfortable making a 10-year commitment at the increased rates.

“This is obviously a great location,” said Vaughan. “The Queen Anne area has been one of the more affluent areas in Seattle and I think that what has happened with South Lake Union, and the development there, and the Mercer corridor getting fixed up, it was inevitable that it would probably bump up the rent here in Queen Anne.”

It is with a heavy heart that Easy Street leaves the lower Queen Anne neighborhood said Vaughan. Being a Seattle native he told Walsh you can’t get anymore Seattle than sitting in the shadow of the Space Needle.

A big part of his motivation for running his business, which he admits is a little Mayberry, is giving back to the community and he’s sad to leave Queen Anne.

“I first opened the store 12 years ago and there’s just been a strong bond between this local community here and the local musicians,” said Vaughan. “We’ll try to make this a little bit more of a celebration than a slow death for sure.”

But he said there will definitely be liquidation type sales now through the final day. The store is set to close Jan. 18. A final in-store performance from Yo La Tengo is planned.

For loyal patrons, Easy Street’s original West Seattle location will continue to operate, and for a good long while, said Vaughan, who adds they just signed a 15-year lease for that location.

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