By Cicero A. Estrella
Amoeba Music in San Francisco is back in business, and that’s music to everybody’s ears.
Albums, compact disc, cassettes, DVDs or Blu—whatever your old-school format of choice—are again available for purchase and/or trade at the used record store located on the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park. Amoeba reopened in mid-September after having been shut down for six months by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re getting lots of love. People are just thrilled that we’re open again,” co-owner Joe Goldmark said. “People love music. Everyone’s just gushing, telling us how they’ve missed us.”
For now, the San Francisco store will be open only from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Its sister stores in Berkeley and Los Angeles are also preparing to welcome back music lovers. The Berkeley location is scheduled to reopen on Oct. 12, while the L.A. store—which is moving to a new building—is looking at a late November relaunch.
It was touch and go for a while for the popular record store. After the three locations shut down in mid-March, Amoeba’s owners launched an online fundraiser to help pay for rent, bills and to help about 300 employees stay on their feet.
Amoeba’s GoFundMe page gave special shutouts to celebrity chef Rachael Ray and comedian Chris Rock for their generous donations. Many loyal customers chipped in with smaller amounts, but their little acts of kindness added up to nearly $300,000.
That total, plus federal and local grants, kept the business afloat.
“That helped us pay for our employees’ health benefits for the whole six months,” Goldmark said.
The San Francisco store, which is located at 1855 Haight St. on the site of a former bowling alley, has put in place plenty of COVID-19 safety precautions. Customers must apply hand sanitizer upon entering, masks are required at all times, plexiglass and an extra foot of counter space between cashiers and customers have been added at the checkout registers. And, of course, social distancing is being encouraged.
“We’re wiping things down constantly,” Goldmark said.
Only 150 people are allowed in the 25,000-square-foot store at the same time, about one-quarter of capacity. Live musical performances are on hold for now, but record and CD buybacks are being held with new safety rules.
Goldmark says San Francisco’s progress in slowing coronavirus will dictate when the store returns to operating seven days a week.
“We’re constantly monitoring what’s going on,” Goldmark said. “We won’t open full-time until COVID goes down in the area.”
Photo by Amoeba Records