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After a yearlong hiatus, Amoeba Music announces April reopening in new location

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Hear that drum rhythm echoing at the horizon? That’s the sound of Amoeba Music in Hollywood sound-checking its stereo system in a new spot.

On Monday, the California music retailer announced that it would open its new 23,000-square-feet Hollywood Boulevard location on April 1.

Located across the street from the Frolic Room and the Pantages Theatre, and a block west of concert venue the Fonda, the new Amoeba is situated within the El Centro residential and retail development at the corner of Argyle Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard.

The move to a new space has been years in the making. Last year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amoeba abandoned a planned farewell concert for its previous home on Sunset Boulevard, speeded up construction at the new address and hauled the store’s thousands of records earlier than originally planned.

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It had hoped to open in November, but the fall surge in COVID-19 negated that possibility.

“We are SO ready to safely re-open our doors to our amazingly supportive and loyal customers who have kept in touch with us during this unfathomable time,” Amoeba co-owner Jim Henderson said in a statement.

Amoeba Music in Hollywood.

(Gustav Liliequist)

Reached by phone, Henderson said the recent drop in coronavirus cases drove their decision to open on April 1.

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“With restrictions for retailers being scaled back within the city and the county, the case numbers dropping and the vaccination numbers increasing, we feel like now is the time.”

The store, which originated in the San Francisco Bay Area, opened its first Los Angeles location in 2001. Housed in a building that Amoeba ownership bought at the corner of Sunset and Cahuenga Avenue, the location became a tourist destination the day it opened, even as retail music sales were plummeting due to the rise of file-sharing.

It also was a magnet for record-loving celebrities and musicians. Across its time on Sunset, the store hosted in-store performances or appearances by artists including Paul McCartney, Jenny Lewis, F.K.A. Twigs, the Raconteurs and hundreds more. Its popular “What’s in My Bag” video series has documented notable shoppers as they peruse and buy.

Tyler, the Creator tours the new Amoeba location in Hollywood. Warning: contains cussing.

As Hollywood developers gobbled up real estate along Sunset to build high-rise housing, Amoeba’s property value skyrocketed. The company took advantage of the boom by selling the building to developer GPI Cos. for a reported $34 million in 2015. Henderson said that when the store sold the property, it did so to survive as a retailer. With a five-year lease negotiated into the deal, Amoeba’s long-term fate at the address was sealed.

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Known for its overwhelming selection of vinyl, compact discs, DVDs, merchandise and ephemera, Amoeba returns after a harrowing year for retailers and their staffs. After Amoeba temporarily closed its stores in Hollywood, Berkeley and San Francisco in mid-March last year, its owners expressed concern about the chain’s survival and launched a GoFundMe page for its employees, many of whom are hourly workers not on the company’s healthcare plan. Among the contributors were comedian Chris Rock, cooking personality Rachael Ray and writer-couple Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown. The fundraiser generated nearly $300,000. An injection of money from the Paycheck Protection Program also helped stem the loss of income.

Amoeba is not the only local music retailer re-emerging. In Highland Park, Gimme Gimme Records has eased its appointment-only policy and has started keeping regular weekend hours.

The new location of Amoeba Music.

The new location of Amoeba Music.

(Gustav Liliequist)

Buoyed by a series of Instagram Live sets that saw actor-podcaster-vinyl-dude Marc Maron scouring the store and hawking records, the shop has kept afloat through various social media initiatives, owner Dan Cook said.

Alex Rodriguez, the brains behind another noted destination shop, Glass House Record Store in downtown Pomona, recently announced on Instagram that he’d signed a lease on a new store in Atwater Village. Rodriguez, whom Coachella-goers know as the long-haired guy who operates the festival’s record store, is the subject of the recent documentary “Record Safari.”

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Last week, Amoeba informed the store’s 200 employees that the new space, at 6200 Hollywood Blvd., would be opening at 11 a.m. on April 1.

The store’s old location is currently empty and awaiting demolition. The Amoeba logo remains, but only as an outline of grime where a sign greeting customers once hung. Last year, the neon sign that lighted up Sunset at Cahuenga came down. Whether or not it has been worked into the new location’s design remains unknown.

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