The owners of Aquarius Records, San Francisco's longest-running independent record store and a noted source for eclectic music from all over the world, announced Friday that they sold it and though it would stay a record shop, it will operate under a different name.
In a statement published on their website, owners Allan Horrocks and Andee Connors informed their patrons that they would be selling the store to the proprietors of Stranded Records in Oakland. The tiny storefront in San Francisco's Mission District will become a second location for the young but growing music retailer.
Aquarius will operate as it is now until July 4, when it will shut down for renovations and remodeling. The new owners plan to reopen the new Stranded on July 29.
In a phone interview Friday afternoon, Horrocks said that both he and Connors decided to sell the store when they realized it needed to be revitalized but they couldn't commit to it. Co-owners since 2003, Horrocks was too busy with his 2-year-old daughter and Connors has other projects he wanted to concentrate on. The store and its extensive mail order catalog was a "labor of love" that the two found they couldn't give the attention they felt it deserved.
"We were looking to have someone take it over, and after some searching and discussion, we knew the guys over at Stranded were interested in opening a new shop," said Horrocks. "This store needed a reboot and we couldn't really do it ourselves. I feel fortunate because the people we found have similar tastes and attitudes about a lot of the music. We certainly like their label Superior Viaduct."
Aquarius Records first opened in 1970 in the Castro, and for a long period it was located by the camera shop run by Harvey Milk, an influential gay activist who would become the nation's first openly gay politician. In the '80s it moved to Noe Valley, and then it moved to its current location in the Mission District in 1996. Both Horrocks and Connors have been working at the store since it was located in Noe Valley.
Besides the name change, Horrocks says that customers should expect to see more records and less CDs at the store -- Stranded is mainly a vinyl seller -- and the selection of releases could change. But it will remain a record store and retain its current staff -- no one's getting fired -- and to him that's what matters.
"The new guys will be doing things a little differently but the same staff will be here," Horrocks said. "It will be different but the same, and it's a way for it to survive."