Bill Broyhill loves a challenge.
And he loves working with customers who hold a deep appreciation of classic tunes.
So when a lady recently came to his Record Cellar store at the Rock Hill Galleria and asked for a spin of the 1986 track “Lady Soul” by the Temptations, Broyhill knew exactly where to look.
“I thought she was going to have a (fit), she was so happy,” he said, sitting in a small office at the back of his store. “It does your heart good when you see things like that.”
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After 40 years of serving the Rock Hill community with his extensive collection of vinyls, cassettes, CDs and more, the Record Cellar will soon close.
With competition from bigger department and specialty stores, Broyhill, 71, and his staff have strived to set their prices low enough to keep customers coming back.
Back when CDs first hit the mainstream in the early 1980s, a customer could buy one for about $16.98, Broyhill said. Today, he’ll sell them for about $6.99, much lower than the cost to buy them.
The music business has been unpredictable and unforgiving for brick-and-mortar stores, Broyhill said. Despite a recent revival in vinyl appreciation, he said it just isn’t enough to provide the variety of merchandise he’s proud to sell.
“If I could do it for free, I would keep on doing it,” he said. “I’ll miss everything.”
Depending on how quickly merchandise sells, Broyhill intends to officially close at any point between the end of December and the end of February.
He said he’s wrestled with the decision for at least a decade. Back in 1998, Broyhill employed up to 14 employees in his 5,000-square-foot Galleria site off Dave Lyle Boulevard. Today, there are three manning a limited selection.
Once a seller of Martin, Gibson and Taylor guitars and amplifiers, the store only offers faded spots where those instruments used to sit.
During the boom years, Record Cellar offered an extensive collection of jazz, oldies, blues, rock, rap, R&B and plenty more. Today, Broyhill has limited his intake and is wondering what he’ll do with the music he’s unable to move in the final days.
“The reason we’ve hung on is simply because I and the employees love music,” he said. “Simple as that, we love what we do. I never got up thinking, ‘Oh, I have to go to work.’ I always look forward to coming here.”
The Record Cellar opened in 1976 in the old Rock Hill Mall on Cherry Road. Fifteen years later, the store moved to the newly opened Rock Hill Galleria as one of its original tenents.
Through the years, the Record Cellar became Rock Hill’s central spot for eight tracks, 45s, CDs, and more. But when big box stores and online merchants began advertising their merchandise at a loss, the competition became too much to bear for Broyhill.
He praised his employees and longtime friends, including Lou Ann Roulette and Jimmy Grier. Roulette and Broyhill have worked together in some capacity for over 40 years.
Broyhill said he was passionate to do what he loves.
“I look at it as a relationship,” he said. “I’m with someone that’s not in love with me anymore, from a business standpoint.”
Broyhill said he’s looking forward to traveling a little: He hasn’t had a true vacation since 2006. He’ll meet up with high school friends in North Carolina, and enjoy the time off.
But a part of him will certainly miss the camaraderie, the common understanding between him and a fellow music lover.
“It’s going to be a void, no question about it,” he said. “It’s hard to say how I’ll react to it.”
For more information
Anyone interested in buying the business to continue the tradition should contact Bill Broyhill at 803-366-6139.