Waltons Closure Echoes Around Dublin’s Music Scene

Tara McCamley reports on the loss of the famed music store from the city centre and the sadness surrounding its closure

 

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The famous Waltons store remains vacant for now, a sad, empty reminder of an institution gone from Dublin’s streets

Waltons music store on South Great Georges Street has closed its doors for the last time due to a massive increase in rent, much to the sadness and disappointment of musicians and music fans across Dublin.

The news was confirmed via a blog post by the managing director of Waltons, Niall Walton. In his post he stated that the rising cost of rents in the city centre and the takeover of online shopping led to the decision to close the city centre branch.

The proposed rent increase for the Georges Street location was a 100% increase on the 25 year lease that was due to expire. Mr Walton believed that the exponential increase was due to the overspill of business interest from Temple bar and Grafton Street leaking onto Georges Street.

The chain has a second branch that will remain open in Blanchardstown, becoming their main base of operations, while their online store will also continue to be operational. Additionally, the Waltons School of Music that sits above the Georges Street store will remain open and operational.

“With the ever rising costs of doing business in the city centre we need to make sure that our cost base does not make us uncompetitive”

The first Waltons store was originally opened in 1922 by Martin Walton, a violinist who went on to found the Dublin School of Music, on South Fredericks Street with the closing branch opening in the early 1990s. All stores are still run and operated by the Walton Family though where there once were several now only one remains.

In his statement Mr Walton said “The reason  for this move is to restructure our business in a way that we will be able to offer our customers the best music choices possible at the best prices in the future. With the ever rising costs of doing business in the city centre we need to make sure that our cost base does not make us uncompetitive.”

The shop’s closure is a huge loss for Dublin city centre. With Waltons being a staple fixture of the music scene, it leaves behind fewer stores within the city centre for musicians to buy their equipment.

“It is a shame it’s closing. It was a staple of music stores in the city. Like when me and my mates were first getting into playing music it was the place you went to when you were up in Dublin” says musician Stuart Scully, longtime patron and fan of the store.

“The closing of stores is worrying”, he continued: “On one hand, it’s easier when the gear is cheaper to buy on Amazon, particularly as musicians never have money. But then I remember spending hours in music shops with my best mate just looking at stuff, chatting with the staff, and when buying something in a store, you get actual advice on whether it’s a good purchase.”

Waltons was a mainstay of the street and city centre and was famously featured in the 2007 Glen Hansard movie, Once in which the two leads sang the Oscar winning hit Falling slowly inside the store. With it gone the charm and appeal of the street is fading rapidly as well.

The stores closure is a far too common tale of how small family run Irish businesses are being phased out to form a newer, more expensive modern Dublin, one lacking the charm and tradition that the loss of stores such as Waltons create that can only be described as distinctly Irish.

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