I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Hastings Entertainment - 1968-2016
In July 2016, Hastings Entertainment announced that they were going out of business and all of their music and movie "Superstores" in the Midwestern and Southern United States would be closed by the end of October. The chain's Facebook page was quickly filled with notes and remembrances from customers who'd been shopping there for years and were naturally saddened by this news.
Founded in Amarillo, Texas in 1968, Hastings had struggled for years against the constantly changing tides of media consumption. Competition from online retailers like Amazon, the growth of streaming and downloading services for music and movies, and the popularity of electronic reading devices meant that Hastings faced major losses in all of their main merchandise areas. The chain did attempt to shed their old fashioned "Music and Video Store" image in recent years by trying to re-invent Hastings as a "pop culture destination," with a bigger emphasis on toys, t-shirts, collectibles and merchandise related to films/TV, music, comic books and video games, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to stop the bleeding. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in June of 2016 and the chain was put up for sale, but when no buyer was found Hastings announced final liquidation proceedings in July. By Halloween 2016, Hastings was just a memory.
Hastings Superstores' "Reboot" Came Too Little, Too Late
Why I Will Miss Hastings
This may sound strange but I mourned the demise of Hastings even though I'd never actually set foot in one of their stores. They had no locations in my home state of New Jersey, but from what I've seen in pictures and videos it looked like Hastings was "my" kind of store. If there had been a local Hastings when I was growing up in the '80s, I would've spent the bulk of of my allowance money there, because they carried all of my favorite things - music, movies, and comics - under one roof!
However, I had been a loyal customer of the GoHastings web site for about five years. I'm a fanatical CD collector who's always looking for new sources of cheap music, so I was amazed when I came across GoHastings and saw their wide selection of used discs for pocket-change prices. Oddly enough, I learned of its existence through a guy from Australia (of all places!) on a hard rock/heavy metal web forum. He posted a message saying that he was bummed because he'd just discovered an absolutely amazing web store full of dirt-cheap used CDs, but they would only ship within North America, so he was out of luck. I had never even heard of the Hastings chain at that time but when I read that post I thought to myself, "Hey, I like cheap CDs, and I live in America...this sounds like something I should look into!" (haha)
Within five minutes of browsing on their site, GoHastings instantly became my "go-to" online CD source. Over the past five years I have filled countless holes in my collection thanks to them - most for only a few bucks apiece. I can't tell you how many times I'd hear a snippet of a song on the radio, think to myself "I wonder if I can get that on CD?" and later I'd find a used copy on GoHastings for $1.29. You can't beat that with a stick!
I never had any complaints about Hastings' customer service, either. On the rare occasion that I received a bum disc which was too scratched or beat up to play (this is, of course, the major hazard of ordering used CDs sight unseen via the internet), all I had to do was call them up and they'd credit the price of the disc back to me. I didn't even have to send the defective item back to them. For this middle aged, cheap music addict who was basically dragged kicking and screaming into the e-commerce world of the 21st century, GoHastings was Heaven on Earth.
Naturally, when rumors of Hastings' imminent demise began circulating in the Spring of 2016, I thought, "Oh man, that sucks! I'd better enjoy them while I still can!" and immediately placed an order for another stack of used/cheap CDs. When that shipment arrived, I placed another order... and when THAT one arrived, I placed another order. (Haha!) As fate would have it, my final CD from them (which was the lone album by Coverdale-Page, just in case anybody's wondering) arrived in my mail box on July 20th, 2016, and Hastings announced their liquidation a day later, on the 21st. Timing is everything!
Out of curiosity, I dug into my CD cabinets after I received my last haul and counted up how many discs I'd acquired from GoHastings in the past five years. When the grand total came to 95, I thought about going back and ordering another five - just to make it an even one hundred - but when I went to their site, GoHastings' usual home page had already been replaced by a large "GOING OUT OF BUSINESS" graphic, and online ordering was no longer an option, so that was the end of that. Oh well, it was a good run while it lasted. Hail and farewell, GoHastings (tips hat)!!
So Who's Left?
Now that Hastings has closed up shop, are there any other major players left in the dwindling world of brick-and-mortar music and movie retailing? I'm told that the FYE (For Your Entertainment) chain is still limping along in some parts of the U.S., but all of their stores in my area got outta Dodge several years ago. Most, if not all, of my other favorite watering holes like Tower Records, Sam Goody, Musicland and Media Play are long gone. (Side note: GOD, I miss Tower Records SO MUCH! *sob*) Big box retailers like Wal-Mart, and Target still carry CDs, but for how much longer? Their music selections are already so small that they're barely worth bothering with, and they continue to shrink by the day.
Thankfully there are still a number of mom-n-pop "indie" music stores across this great land of ours, which are the stores which truly deserve our support, because they're keeping the physical-media flame burning (besides, they get all the cool stuff!). Still, sometimes I miss the days when I could go to the Mall and spend hours wandering around in a gigantic store surrounded by endless music and video entertainment options. It was truly a great time to be alive, kids. We shall never see its like again.
To the fine folks at Hastings, thanks very much for keeping my CD addiction well fed over the past five years. To my fellow Hastings customers, I grieve with you for the loss of your favorite store. I hope you found some cool stuff during the going-out-of-business fire sales. I wish I'd been able to hit a store and scrounge alongside you, but according to Google Maps, the closest Hastings location to me was in Auburn, Alabama - which would have been a 995 mile road trip. At least I have 95 CDs to rock out with and remember them by.
© 2016 Keith Abt
sal val on May 17, 2020:
Was just thinking about Hastings and got curious to how they got to closing. It is probably still my favorite store to this day for many reasons. Sentimental and the store here in lake havasu city az had an amazing selection of so many things. I remember going to rent movies and anime (they had a great collection) with my uncle and brother, and then going to their amazing comic and book selection in my own time (my favorite part). Checking out their, yet again, awesome video games and playing their sample consoles. They had headphones wired to music playlists they curated that you could listen to while browsing music cds. Other awesome stuff like blacklight posters and lava lamps and board games etc. You could kill so much time there and not notice it. Had a completely open layout that labeled everything on the walls in unique lettering themed to the sections. We would grab a slushie because they also sold those and fountain drinks near the exits and they later infused an awesome coffee shop to read in right next to their book section. So many good memories and unique puzzles, novelty items, and all sorts of things bought there. Sad to think shitty companies like amazon partly caused them to go out of business.
Regina Cariveau on July 18, 2019:
I used to shop at Hastings growing up, even loved ordering my and my kids favorite movies from the online store (no hastings in the town we were in as a military family). I am so sad that it is no longer with us. I think they really need to bring the store back or something similar to it. I know that hastings received tons of money from me since I was always ordering movies and books from them. bring back hastings :(
Pixie on May 08, 2019:
I remember going to this store with my dad as a preteen. I loved books. Their reading area at my location was almost magical. Giant bookshelves designed to look like trees, oversized seating areas, loads of books to choose from and peruse as the parents shopped. If I'm being honest, I am pretty sure that's what started my love of reading. Hastings was my happy place.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on September 11, 2018:
Hi Jason - thanks for sharing your memories -- it sounds like Hastings made the same mistakes as a lot of other movie/music chains!
Jason on September 08, 2018:
I worked at Hastings for three years in two different locations (Kearney, NE and Lawrence, KS) from 1995 to 1998. The staff in the stores were great co-workers, but I always felt like the headquarters staff didn't really know what was selling... like, for instance, getting huge pallets of floral stationery that we couldn't sell for 25 cents on clearance, but only getting five copies of the latest top 10 CD.
I did succeed in building a very good CD collection, around 1000 used CDs... which I ended up selling back to their Fremont, NE location in around 2005 for about the same price I paid for them in the first place.
In a way, they were Amazon before Amazon was Amazon. With a little bit of foresight. John Marmaduke could have been Jeff Bezos
Michael from Turkey on August 19, 2018:
I grew up in Amarillo. Hastings was the happening place. Albums, tapes, VHS, posters, concert tickets, the list is endless. I even worked in their warehouse briefly. My ex was a lost prevention manager for the entire region. Sad they couldnt keep up with the change in media consumption. I agree the top brass were greedy and out of touch. They squandered Sam Marmaduke's hard work. Truly the end of an era and somewhat a culture.
newport55 on November 16, 2017:
Great article Keith. Upon hearing the news, I took a road trip to Arizona to catch the liquidation sales at 4 stores. A few weeks later I flew to Albuquerque to check out the 5 stores closing there and the following week flew to Boise to catch their 5 closing stores. Found lots of great stuff!
KDE on September 15, 2017:
I worked for Hastings for over 7 years a while back. It was a truly unique idea and a great place to meet up with friends. As a manager at the District level it was discouraging at how out of touch the Executive Team was with what the customers really wanted. John Marmaduke had the chance to take Hastings into the realm of Redbox rentals before it really became a thing and John basically said that no one would want to rent a movie from a box and not go in a physical store. He was the major reason the company eventually folded. It was on its way out when he sold the company and walked away with millions. Very sad!!
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on August 08, 2017:
Hi Kristen - thanks for sharing your memories with us!
kris l on August 08, 2017:
hastings was my child hood, from when i was a kid and my dad telling me every saterday you have a 20 dollar spending limit. which i could buy a good selection of things. To being in high school setting in the cafe we had playing acoustic guitar with my friends. I used to go in hastings and walk around for around an hour just looking at everything. I really enjoyed this store from my child hood to my adulthood. I really wish it could stand a chance to come back.
Kelso on July 26, 2017:
I teared up a little reading this... I miss my local Hastings, used to go to one that was about 15 minutes away in the next town and pick up comic books... :'(
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 23, 2017:
Hi Rene - sorry to ruin your day!! Hope you can find someplace else that's cool on your next road trip!
Rene on June 22, 2017:
Agh! I always go to Hastings on road trips and this was the site i landed on when planning this weekend's trip. I didnt realize they were all closed.
Rob S on February 19, 2017:
I'll miss Gohastings. I only found the site about five years ago but have purchased roughly 100 dvd, blu-ray and cds from them during the time. They had become my go to store for all used and once in awhile new media. They'll be sorely missed.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on February 06, 2017:
Hi steppph - thanks for stopping by my page and sharing your cool story. I'm sure it was bittersweet visiting your Hastings store one final time.
steppph on February 06, 2017:
I was randomly thinking about Hastings and found this article. I grew up in Albuquerque and would go here at least twice a week with my parents--CDs, magazines, comics, books and especially the VHS rentals were always combed through. It's where I discovered my first comic books that weren't Archies and would sneak into the horror section to read the back covers and imagine what the movies would be like based on the poster art.
We moved away when I was 16, and I only went back when they were liquidating--the road trip to ABQ was already planned, and hitting that store was a big part of it. I was afraid it'd be gone, but we got there in early October just in time. The store was gigantic (they supersized it since it was my local video store) but it still meant a lot to go one more time--AND get some great deals on Blu-rays. I never got to work there (I had a total "Empire Records" fantasy as a kid!) but it had such a major impact on my life.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on January 17, 2017:
Hi Joe - I feel your pain! I have yet to find another cheap-CD source that's as reliable as GoHastings was. I feel like I've lost a friend.
Joe on January 17, 2017:
Me and my wife miss hastings so much that I just googled....missing hastings entertainment and your post popped up lol...we truly do miss it...it was our to go place for a Friday movie night with our two little ones..rip hastings
Had been going since I was 10..now 30
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on November 02, 2016:
Hi Brook - I'm glad that this piece brought back some good memories for you, and I thank you for your service with GoHastings - I ordered so many CDs from them over the past five years that I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of them had passed through your hands! Haha :)
Brook on November 02, 2016:
This will make you smile I hope, but I was employed by Hastings for a year from October 2014 to October 2015. One of the jobs I did while I was working there was serving as a "GoShip" employee, meaning that I pulled items from the shelves that people like you ordered from the website, packed them, and shipped them directly to the customers. I always enjoyed the idea that I was responsible for filling orders for customers across the country. Your post made me smile because now I know how much enjoyment I provided. Seeing the posts today, a few days after the last stores closed, has made me miss those days, Thanks for helping me to remember the great parts of that job.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on October 27, 2016:
Hi Mike - I feel your pain, man! By the end of October the entire chain will be history, or so I'm told. :(
Mike P. on October 27, 2016:
Thanks for writing this, our local store just closed this past Saturday and I am pretty bummed:(
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on October 23, 2016:
Hi Bree - thanks for sharing your experience!
Bree on October 23, 2016:
I worked for Hastings for a couple of years about a decade ago, right during the launch of goHastings.com. At the time, they fed that website straight out of the stores. Every day, I'd arrive and print a list of used CDs, DVDs, and books that were going all over the country. I noticed these items were often obscure titles that had been sitting on my store's shelf for years. It was so cool to see these things going to a good home. I had just moved back to the mountain West and Hastings was one of the things I was looking forward to having Hastings back. Sadly, less than a year later they are going out of business. It was an awful company to work for (although simultaneously a great place to work- it attracted a lot of really awesome people) but all the same I am very sorry to see it go.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on August 08, 2016:
Hi darkrage6 -- I miss record/music stores more than video stores, at this point between Netflix, Amazon Video
, the various movie streaming channels available via Roku (PopcornFlix, TubiTV, Shout Factory, etc.) and even YouTube, I can watch a different movie every day for the rest of my life without any repeats...it's a great time to be a film buff. Unfortunately, it's not such a good time to be a CD buff (SIGH!)....
darkrage6 on August 08, 2016:
My local shopping mall has an FYE store, I was sad when Suncoast closed most of it's stores.
Funny how Hastings claimed Amazon killed them, yet they were a third-party seller on Amazon, I bought a ton of stuff from them through Amazon, so if anything Amazon helped them survive for longer then they otherwise would have.
I was also sad when Blockbuster, Borders(Barnes and Noble isn't quite as good IMO) and Hollywood Video went away, for me Netflix and Redbox just aren't the same. Still it's not all bad, at least in the midwest there's still Family Video(the largest independently owned video store chain) and there's one other video store called People's Choice which is pretty good(aside from the background noise from the Family Fun Center on the other side of the building).
On the bright side, Circuit City is making a comeback, which makes me happy.
Keith on August 04, 2016:
I definitely miss gohastings
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on August 01, 2016:
Hi Anna - I have heard of Half Price Books, like Hastings they don't have any store locations in my area but it can't hurt to check them out online. Thanks for the tip.
Anna on July 31, 2016:
Have you heard of Half Price Books? They have a similar venue to hastings, and I have started using them. They may not be as cheap as hastings was, but you can still get used cd's cheap. They have books, comics, records, and even toys much like hastings, they just focus on books more.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on July 23, 2016:
Preach it brother!! Amen!!
Tohostudios on July 23, 2016:
You know what I miss most about brick and mortar stores? "Listening posts", especially "employee picks" listening posts. I can't begin to list the number of obscure bands I found that way at various chain stores. Sure you can now listen to practically any band on the interwebs but you have to know they even exist first. I used to love walking into a Camelot or Streetside Records store, heading straight for the employee picks posts and discovering bands on independent labels or even their own labels. And then buying the CD and spreading the word about said band to my friends.
RIP music stores.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on July 23, 2016:
Glad you liked it, Rick.... at least we'll always have our memories!
Rick B on July 23, 2016:
Another great article on a store i will miss also. Thanks Keith!