Rasputin Music Shutters Union Square Location

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Rasputin Music on Powell Street in San Francisco, seen here in 2013, has closed. (Flickr/@pchurch92)

Rasputin Music, the record store founded in 1971 with nearly a dozen Bay Area locations, has closed its five-story store at 69 Powell St., the Chronicle reports.

News of the closure broke on Reddit Wednesday night, where an employee posted the news. According to the Chronicle’s Alyssa Pereira, the store's phone had already forwarded to a voicemail message announcing the closure:

"We regret to inform you that the Rasputin Powell location is no longer open for business," it says. "We appreciate your patronage and we still have our store on Haight Street at 1672 that will continue to remain open. Thank you for shopping at Rasputin Powell."

The Powell Street location was notable for its staff position of elevator operator, as no stairs reach the building's upper floors. Elevator operators often listened to boomboxes or iPods to pass the time between shuttling customers to the upstairs levels of the store. In a 2004 story about the store's elevator by Amy Wu, then-store manager Jennie Romer was quoted about the job:

"We've had people do their homework in there," Romer says. "People will knit or draw. Someone covered the elevator with Post-it notes. We get comments from people who say, 'It smells like pizza in here,' or people say, 'Is this really your job?'" There are always some people who apply just for that gig. Romer once even considered creating an elevator outfit just like the ones in New York's ritziest hotels to make the position seem more official.

Rasputin was founded in 1971 by Ken Sarachan, whose real estate shenanigans on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley and longtime vendetta against rivals Amoeba Music -- founded in 1990 by former Rasputin employees -- have soured many locals and record buyers. (The subject was most recently revisited by Sam Lefebvre in the East Bay Express.)

Still others have posited another theory: that in the past several years Urban Outfitters, with a branch located directly across Powell Street from the former Rasputin, has begun to carve out more space for vinyl records in its floor plan. Recently, Urban Outfitters boasted the highest vinyl sales of any brick-and-mortar chain in the country.


According to the former employee, several staff members will be reassigned to other Rasputin locations.