For Virginia Record Store CD Cellar, ‘No Downside’ In Big Changes

By Justyn Withay

Falls Church's CD Cellar has relocated its main shop and plans to shutter its Arlington location, but owners say the moves will keep the business strong.
Falls Church's CD Cellar has relocated its main shop and plans to shutter its Arlington location, but owners say the moves will keep the business strong. Courtesy CD Cellar

The plight of record stores is so well known, there’s even a day commemorating them. But for Northern Virginia’s CD Cellar, things are moving onward and upward.

On Dec. 31, the shop relocated its flagship location in Falls Church from a small storefront on West Broad Street to a larger and more Metro-accessible spot at 105 Park Ave.

“The Falls Church shop had expanded beyond a manageable size,” says David Schlank, who co-owns the store with Dave Giese, one of its founders. “We wanted something easier to handle. The old space was three rooms on two floors. The new space is one big room.”

The change puts CD Cellar in good company with other Falls Church musical landmarks. Its new neighbors include guitar store Action Music, audio repair shop HiFi Heaven and Cue Recording Studios.

The transition is not without its setbacks, however. Schlank and Giese are phasing out the store’s second location in Arlington, Virginia, which closes for good on Jan. 15.

“We didn’t necessarily want to close the Arlington store, but rent was getting higher and higher, and it didn’t make sense to keep it going,” says Schlank, 42. “It’s bittersweet, because it really is a cool store. The guys who work there really put a lot of effort into it and made it a destination.”

Despite this, Schlank has no regrets. “Combining the stores will be a very positive change, and so far the response from people has been terrific,” says the Silver Spring resident. “For us, there is no downside.” (Other D.C.-area record stores have been making adjustments recently: D.C.’s Red Onion relocated to a U Street NW location; Joe’s Record Paradise plans to move in the coming months; Frederick’s Vinyl Acres overcame a disastrous flood with some fundraising help.)

Employees of the Arlington shop will host a two-day goodbye concert at the store this weekend, featuring electronic duo Protect-U, garage group Foul Swoops and guitarist Anthony Pirog, among others.

CD Cellar opened in Falls Church in the summer of 1992, when Giese and another local record store employee decided to open their own shop. Schlank came on board two years later while studying at George Mason University and looking for a part-time gig. He eventually became a business partner.

Over time, CD Cellar grew into a respected regional source for new and used music, as well as the occasional in-store performance. (Despite the “CD” in its name, the shop sells vinyl records and DVDs, too.) Schlank credits CD Cellar’s longevity to the flexibility of its stock.

“We’re predominantly a used shop, which means we’re able to adjust to the actual market value of the products we carry pretty quickly,” Schlank says. “That kind of nimbleness eludes stores that sell only new product.”

“We’re part of the landscape now,” Schlank says, “and we expect to be here for years to come.”

CD Cellar hosts two goodbye shows in its Arlington location Jan. 8 and 9. See Facebook for details.

Disclosure: David Schlank is married to Ally Schweitzer, the editor of WAMU 88.5’s Bandwidth. Schweitzer did not edit this story.