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The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: Dennis R
Date: June 27, 2007 06:34AM
My mother is having to close her polka record store. Because of it's uniqueness it made big news. It was a major article in the business section of the paper in the linked Associated Press story, it was on 2 local TV stations and one TV station in Central New York and she even got a call from Washington, DC and was interviewed for an hour by NPR. It turned into about a 3 minute spot.
[www.npr.org]


[www.buffalonews.com]

Ruda’s Records is closing after 57 years of business

Don Ruda opened the store in 1950 to share his love of music with others

By Christopher Michel
Updated: 06/25/07 7:16 AM

Ruda’s Records isn’t just another record store. It’s a place where the latest polka record can be bought and Polish heritage is celebrated.

But after 57 years of business, Ruda’s Records will close its doors on Saturday.

Opened in 1950, by Don and Virginia Ruda, Ruda’s Records became a Buffalo mainstay. Don Ruda opened the store not only to sell records, but to share his love of music with others.

“My husband loved polka music and loved promoting it. He was the kind of guy who could play almost any tune on the accordion by ear. One of the reasons he opened the store in 1950 was so he could teach others how to play musical instruments,” Virginia Ruda said.

Over the years, Ruda’s Records had several locations in the heart of the Polonia district of Buffalo. Its most popular location was on Broadway.

“During our time at our Broadway store, we had a large variety of records available. My husband always handled the polka music and I always handled the rock ’n’ roll.We always had the Billboard Top 40 records available,” Ruda said.

In 1993, the Rudas decided to downsize and focus on only selling Polish items, moving from Broadway to William Street in Cheektowaga.

Despite years of declining business, the decision to close was not easy for Ruda.

“People aren’t coming in anymore. With computers, now more people are buying their music off the Internet or burning each other’s music. Business at my store has been going down because of that,” Ruda said.

Even polka musicians are feeling the pinch from music sharing. Some polka bands that would sell thousands of CDs are now selling only a third of what the once did, Ruda said.

All music genres are being affected.........

.....The store welcomed many legends of polka music, like Frankie Yankovic and Li’l Wally Jagiello.

For Sturr, winner of 16 Grammy Awards and known as “The Polka King,” Ruda’s Records will always hold a place in his heart.

“I am disappointed the store is closing. For us in the polka music business, it’s a historical place,” said Sturr. “Many polka musicians would drive from all over to have their records sold at the store. They sold my records when I was getting my start 30 years ago.”
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: sscutchen
Date: June 27, 2007 07:07AM
I heard the interview on NPR!





Don't ask who the bell's for, dude. It's you.
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: mattkime
Date: June 27, 2007 07:20AM
clearly polka music is a casualty of the internet - its as culturally relevant as it was when the store first opened.
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: June 27, 2007 07:51AM
mttk- There is still a strong subculture that enjoys polka music. Look to my area, with the Polka Hall of Fame, and tons and tons of little old Eastern European / North European ethnic enclaves.

However......

I look to my Aunt's experience, where her Berkely CA based business started by local artisans was completely destroyed by illegal Chinese knock-offs of their art pottery pieces. They went out of business three years ago, despite 'protection' from the US copyright laws.
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: June 27, 2007 07:56AM
I heard the story on NPR as well.



New site design! - My daily record blog: [www.auditorymusings.net]



The Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: JoeH
Date: June 27, 2007 08:11AM
Quote
cbelt3
mttk- There is still a strong subculture that enjoys polka music. Look to my area, with the Polka Hall of Fame, and tons and tons of little old Eastern European / North European ethnic enclaves.

However......

I look to my Aunt's experience, where her Berkely CA based business started by local artisans was completely destroyed by illegal Chinese knock-offs of their art pottery pieces. They went out of business three years ago, despite 'protection' from the US copyright laws.

I live in Western Mass where there is a big Polish American community. Polka was a big thing still up until the '90's in this area. But as the older generation is dieing off, the youngest are not taking it up in numbers to replace them. Barring a revival of interest in polka music, I don't see it surviving in this area as any economic passtime beyond the hobby level in another decade.



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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: Jp!
Date: June 27, 2007 08:31AM
Quote
mattkime
clearly polka music is a casualty of the internet - its as culturally relevant as it was when the store first opened.

I partially agree with this sarcastic thought.

But, I also tire of people blaming:
Internet (in general)
eBay
Craigslist
talk radio
government
SUVs

ad infinitum

It's all PEOPLE, regardless of how you package it.
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: billb
Date: June 27, 2007 08:39AM
Shirley you could find a way to blame Wal-Mart.


(isn't the store full of yellow polka dots ?)
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: michaelb
Date: June 27, 2007 08:47AM
It was a good and interesting piece on NPR and I liked your mother's stories about the kinds of questions that people would call her and ask.

I am not at all an expert in the music industry and economy and would never listen to or buy polka myself, but I could see the "internet" as being good for obscure music like Polka. I wouldn't have access to that music if I was forced to shop in local stores. The cost of production and distribution of music online has to be so much cheaper and simpler then pressing vinyl or a CD. 20 years from now I can see subgenres like Polka still flourishing on the web.
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: Bixby
Date: June 27, 2007 08:48AM
What stopped her from expanding her brick and mortar shop to the internet? It could have become *the* place to find polka and polish stuff online.
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: tenders
Date: June 27, 2007 08:56AM
The irony of simultaneously posting this information on the internet at a site focusing on Macs, and blaming the internet for the winding down of the business, which arguably has been driven by the successful business model of the Apple Store, should not be overlooked.
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: Dennis R
Date: June 27, 2007 08:57AM
It was tough after my father died and then a few years later my younger brother died. He was working on web sites and such and was a very big Mac evangelist. I put up a small site for her. It got tons of hits but we never set it up as taking orders directly. Mom is up in years, doesn't know anything about computers and I am working 2 jobs and just did not have the time. Many bands for the last few years would sell their CD on their web site first and wouldn't even sell to my mother until they sold it for 2 or 3 months first.

My dad used to run many big polka dances and even had a place called Polkatown Park with live radio broadcasts every week. He would travel this half of the country wholesaling the records.
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: the_poochies
Date: June 27, 2007 10:10AM
There are plenty of first-generation Polish immigrants in my area, and the ones I met certainly don't dig polka music. They seem to be into rap and guido techno dance music.

I've had a few relatives play in polka bands and hired the DJs from the local Polish National Home to play at my wedding (much to the chagrin of my Irish in-laws, but since I was the sucker paying for the wedding...)

Drop me a line and I may be able to take some of her CDs off of her hands. I'm usually looking for some bands like Happy Louie, Dynatones, Chicago Brass, Stanky & the Coal Miners and the Polka Family.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/27/2007 10:13AM by the_poochies.
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: Ammo
Date: June 27, 2007 10:14AM
Quote
cbelt3
However......

I look to my Aunt's experience, where her Berkely CA based business started by local artisans was completely destroyed by illegal Chinese knock-offs of their art pottery pieces. They went out of business three years ago, despite 'protection' from the US copyright laws.

Have you ever looked at where the (whatever) you just bought was manufactured? It can be very difficult to find something that wasn't made in China. When consumers base their decisions on price (as I admittedly often do), the cheaper Chinese goods will always win. I don't know if this trend is inevitable, but it sure seems that manufacturing in this country may be largely eliminated.

What worries me about this trend are the social consequences - we are losing so many blue-collar jobs that don't require a college education. If you aren't college-bound, how are you going to support a family on a minimum wage job? Why should you even try?
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: chas_m
Date: June 27, 2007 10:41AM
Sorry to hear about your mom's store, but as you say she was getting "up in years" and didn't want to/couldn't learn how to set up a shopping site, so it's probably time to retire.

I hope some enterprising company calls her and offers her a consulting job helping them build POLKAEMPIRE.COM or something like that. smiling smiley

Sure was nice of NPR to memorialise this passing so nicely. Maybe we should all throw THEM a few bucks so THEY don't go the way of the polka record store, huh?



chas_m




[crawlingfromtheusa.blogspot.com] <-- Moving to Canada blog
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: JoeH
Date: June 27, 2007 11:23AM
Quote
the_poochies
There are plenty of first-generation Polish immigrants in my area, and the ones I met certainly don't dig polka music. They seem to be into rap and guido techno dance music.

...

From my observations, polka music was popular within the immigrant community comprised of those who came here starting in the early 1900's up until maybe the 1950's. They and the next generation or three kept up their interest in polka. But the generations born past the '70's mostly have been uninterested.



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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: Forrest
Date: June 27, 2007 11:42AM
>>.....The store welcomed many legends of polka music, like Frankie Yankovic and Li’l Wally Jagiello.

I'm not a fan of Polka - but am a fan of Wierd Al Yankovic
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: Article Accelerator
Date: June 27, 2007 12:03PM
Quote
Dennis R
.....The store welcomed many legends of polka music, like Frankie Yankovic and Li’l Wally Jagiello.

What, no Walter Ostanek? No Happy Wanderers?

[en.wikipedia.org]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/27/2007 12:05PM by Article Accelerator.
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: h'
Date: June 27, 2007 12:04PM
Quote
Bixby
What stopped her from expanding her brick and mortar shop to the internet? It could have become *the* place to find polka and polish stuff online.

I agree with this sentiment. One of the strengths of the internet is that it can make very esoteric items available to collectors and enthusiasts everywhere. Were your family capable, it could have sustained and even grown the business.
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: Dennis R
Date: June 27, 2007 12:09PM
Here is a link to what is left of her web site. If you check the photo archives you will see a very young me with Fabien.

[rudasrecords.com]
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: Zoidberg
Date: June 27, 2007 02:01PM
Could she convert to an online-only kind of thing, or is she ready to retire?



YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)
TETO (To Each Their Own)

(BTW, it's spelled < y'all >.)
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Re: The internet takes another victim...my mother
Posted by: bfd
Date: June 27, 2007 02:57PM
Wow. The end of an era. Must be tough to watch it go. The few record stores left around here are into their second and third generation of family ownership. Hard to compete with iTunes Music Store and Amazon.com though. A niche is necessary. The neighborhood probably changed several times since the store opened, though.

Progress? It's not likely you'll see too many polka specialty record stores in the future …
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