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Farewell to Hastings Entertainment stores

Updated on November 02, 2016
FatFreddysCat profile image

I've been collecting hard rock/metal CDs for 20+ years and I love to share my favorite obscure/forgotten discoveries with fellow rockers.

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Hastings Entertainment - 1968-2016

The marketplace continues to shrink for those of us who still buy "real" CDs, DVDs/Blu-Rays, and books. In late July 2016, Hastings Entertainment announced that they were going out of business and all 126 of their "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 been struggling 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. They did attempt to shed their old fashioned "Music and Video Store" image in recent years, changing their product lines and trying to re-invent Hastings as a "pop culture destination" with an 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 that they would begin 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 mourn the demise of Hastings even though I've never actually set foot in one of their stores. There were no Hastings locations in my home state of New Jersey, but from what I've seen in pictures and videos they look like they were definitely "my" kind of place. If there had been a Hastings where I grew up in the '80s, I likely 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've been a loyal customer of their GoHastings web site since I first discovered it about five years ago. As a fanatical CD collector who's always looking for new sources of cheap music, 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 their 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 Hastings 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.

These are some of the CDs I've purchased from GoHastings over the past five years. If you were me, wouldn't YOU be bummed that this gravy train was coming to an end??
These are some of the CDs I've purchased from GoHastings over the past five years. If you were me, wouldn't YOU be bummed that this gravy train was coming to an end?? | Source

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. 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 wondered if I should go back and order 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)!!

The front page of Hastings' web site tells the sad story.
The front page of Hastings' web site tells the sad story. | Source

So Who's Left?

Now that Hastings has closed up shop, are there any other major players left in the rapidly shrinking 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 music, but for how much longer? Their CD 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, and those 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 a 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 these 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 their going-out-of-business fire sales. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to hit a store and scrounge alongside you, because 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.

R.I.P. Hastings!

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    • Rick B 5 months ago

      Another great article on a store i will miss also. Thanks Keith!

    • FatFreddysCat profile image
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      Keith Abt 5 months ago from The Garden State

      Glad you liked it, Rick.... at least we'll always have our memories!

    • Tohostudios 5 months ago

      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.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image
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      Keith Abt 5 months ago from The Garden State

      Preach it brother!! Amen!!

    • Anna 5 months ago

      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.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image
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      Keith Abt 5 months ago from The Garden State

      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.

    • Keith 5 months ago

      I definitely miss gohastings

    • darkrage6 5 months ago

      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.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image
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      Keith Abt 5 months ago from The Garden State

      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!)....

    • Bree 2 months ago

      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.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image
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      Keith Abt 2 months ago from The Garden State

      Hi Bree - thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Mike P. 2 months ago

      Thanks for writing this, our local store just closed this past Saturday and I am pretty bummed:(

    • FatFreddysCat profile image
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      Keith Abt 2 months ago from The Garden State

      Hi Mike - I feel your pain, man! By the end of October the entire chain will be history, or so I'm told. :(

    • Brook 2 months ago

      Hi Freddy,

      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.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image
      Author

      Keith Abt 2 months ago from The Garden State

      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 :)

    • Joe 4 hours ago

      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

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