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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Obsolete no longer

Agricola's favourite record retailer weathers the gentrifying strip's ups and downs

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2020 at 9:51 AM

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After ten years on Agricola Street, Obsolete Records was booted from its ramshackle storefront last fall in the most anticlimactic way possible. “Someone was parking out back, and drove into some support beam,” says Obsolete owner Ian Fraser. “And the building’s owner decided to just tear it all down.” 

The news wasn’t a total surprise: plans were already afoot to build a five-storey apartment building on the site. The parking mishap was just the nail in the coffin. But though Obsolete has become a North End mainstay—with a selection skewing heavily to Fraser’s own tastes in indie rock, underground hip-hop, and other relatively niche genres and artists—the redevelopment nearly spelled its end. 

“I was in the same space for very close to a decade,” says Fraser, “and they never raised my rent. When I actually had to start looking, it was a shock to see how rent had gone up all around the neighbourhood.”

The relocation may have been a blessing in disguise, however. Brighter, cleaner and wheelchair-accessible, the new space, at 2855 Agricola Street, is also the first to be occupied in a new block of storefronts that aims to draw Agricola foot traffic farther north. And, says Fraser, “it feels like a real store, not an afterthought kind of space.”

Obsolete occupied the first of a two-phase development, and Fraser says a cafe is planned to open beside his story in the spring or summer. “It looks like this is going to turn into a great little niche area,” says Fraser, “a new little hub of commerce.”

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