Andy Schneidkraut has owned Albums on the Hill for 35 years. But after Labor Day, the longstanding record store on Boulder’s University Hill will close its doors permanently — and plenty of music buffs have made time to stop in over the holiday weekend and say goodbye.
“I’ve seen people that I haven’t seen for years,” Schneidkraut said, citing friends, family and customers who have come to Boulder from as close as Longmont to as far away as Massachusetts.
The decision to close is not a matter of business, said Schneidkraut, but a matter of health. After undergoing both a kidney transplant and heart surgery in the spring, Schneidkraut said he realized it was time for him to take a step back.
“Sometimes, you don’t want to let go of things, but decisions are forced upon you,” he said. “I’m at the point where it isn’t a good choice for me to die behind the counter.”
This weekend, for the first time since Schneidkraut temporarily closed the store in April to focus on his health, Albums on the Hill is open to the public for one “last hurrah.” Nearly all items are heavily discounted throughout the weekend, from DVDs to cassette tapes to books.
The turnout has been “unbelievable,” Schneidkraut said.
“It’s always interesting to discover how much you matter to people when you don’t know whether you matter to yourself that much,” he said.
Schneidkraut said the next step is figuring out what to do with Albums on the Hill’s extensive, eclectic collection of media. He would prefer to sell the business to someone who would preserve it as a record store, he said.
There are a few other record stores remaining in Boulder County, including Paradise Found Records & Music on Boulder’s Pearl Street. Albums on the Hill is special, though, Boulder resident Alyssa Boback said.
“I’ve never been to a record store that feels so homey,” Boback said.
Boback is one of many customers who flocked to the store for its final weekend. Andrew Pineda, a University of Colorado Boulder alum who lives in Fort Collins, has been a dedicated customer at Albums on the Hill for more than10 years.
“As soon as I saw that the store was closing for good, I told my wife that, one way or another, we were going to Boulder for the weekend,” Pineda said.
While there are record stores closer to his Fort Collins home that Pineda could patronize, he said he enjoys the way older community staples like Albums on the Hill are able to bring music lovers in the area together. “Newer stores don’t have that same gravity,” he said.
Pineda also said he appreciates how personable Schneidkraut is. He remembers when Schneidkraut gave him a special version of “Sister Cities,” the 2018 album by Pineda’s favorite band, The Wonder Years.
“That kind of thing only happens when you’re close with the owner,” he said.
A few former employees who still live in the area volunteered to work this weekend to support the store one final time. Courtney Law, who worked at Albums on the Hill in 2004 and 2005, said she was happy to visit from her Denver home to help Schneidkraut close up shop.
“This store holds so much meaning for me,” Law said. “It’s really an honor to be able to help.”
Law said even though a part of her knew Schneidkraut couldn’t run the store forever, the news of its closing was still bittersweet. She hopes whoever moves into the space next will, at the very least, respect its history as a beloved bulwark of the Boulder music scene.
“Record stores have historically been community centers,” she said. “It’s a universal experience to be moved by music.”