Cactus Records a rare survivor in a digital music age

By RILEY PITTENGER/Montana State News

Cactus Records in downtown Bozeman has survived competition from chain music stores and digital online music sales by diversifying its offerings.

Few establishments in downtown Bozeman carry more character and unique small business spunk than Cactus Records. The owner, Mike ‘Bueno’ Good has been at the helm for over 10 years after taking over from the previous string of owners.

The idea that an independent record store is still kicking and surviving in an age where digital media has traversed the globe and worn away at its physical predecessor, is impressive at least.

Good has diversified his enterprise since he came into ownership, moving from CDs and records to clothing, novelties, concert tickets and even incorporating other small businesses into Cactus. Cactus Records contains Nightlife, an urban clothing store, and the Movie Dungeon, a rare and archaic film shop that also sells retro video games.

When asked about the shifting nature of his business, Good said he thinks that there may always be a record store, but Cactus will never be just music again. Internationally known shops such as Amoeba in California and Easy Street in Seattle are able to survive in larger communities where the demographics exist to support such enterprise.

Cactus is one of these unique businesses still surviving in a small town where the spirit of the community is a driving force for music retail. It is easier for most consumers to click a button and receive an instant digital copy of an album or song, or spend their money at a larger chain store where the sheer mass of inventory allows the undercutting of smaller businesses.

Locations within corporatized infrastructure such as malls and other shopping centers normally fall into this undercutting category too. Cactus and other record stores have been losing advantages to these entities for years and are now facing further detriment as digital media sales have surpassed physical.

Watching the era of records and record stores begin to wane is a hard thing for generations that grew up with old vinyl sleeves on their shelves, expansive cover art and the opportunity to hear experienced advice when they purchase. Wandering into Cactus in search of new and obscure music also has the advantage of the knowledge and discussion with employees who are personally invested in the inventory.

The community of audiophiles in a record store has always been a point of pride for Good. The presence of a business where all are welcome and the music takes precedence stands separate from the readily available but sterile electronic marketplace.

Independent music stores may be subject to the development of technology as the economy evolves, but losing an establishment that embodies the very essence of small community would not only mark the passing of another small business, it would mark the passing of a community as well.

Edited by Tristan Abbott

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