Look out, Virgin. Move over, Tower.

The Bay Area music retailer that Rolling Stone magazine in 1998 suggested might just be the world's greatest record store, period, is coming to Hollywood.

Amoeba Music, whose Berkeley and San Francisco stores have garnered a national reputation with their wide selection of new and used titles, next fall will open a store in an existing 50,000-square-foot building at 6400 Sunset Blvd., just west of the Cinerama Dome Theatre. Officials of the privately held company declined to disclose the purchase price of the property.

Amoeba has its main store on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley and a second outlet on San Francisco's historic Haight Street.

Company founder Marc Weinstein said the L.A. expansion is a one-shot expansion, not the beginning of any sort of national growth strategy.

"We're a small independent company and we never expected to expand beyond the Bay Area," he said. "But we had a lot of customers coming up from the L.A. area, and it made sense to open one destination store in the middle of L.A."

Weinstein and partners Mike Boyder and Dave Prinz launched their search for an L.A.-area storefront in Santa Monica but were told by Matthew May, executive vice president of Sachse Real Estate Co. Inc., that they were looking in the wrong neighborhood.

"We felt that (Amoeba's target) customer is a little hip," May said. "It's some of the yuppies, (but it's also) some of the people who are a little more down to earth."

Even though he's only casually familiar with the Los Angeles market, Boyder said the Hollywood site has the advantage of being near a Metro subway stop, as well as within blocks of the Hollywood Palladium and Pantages Theatre.

Beyond those physical draws, Boyder said, there's something different about Hollywood in 2000.

"It does really feel to us, and we're not local, like it's up and coming," Boyder said. "There's a revitalization; there's an energy in Hollywood that's very exciting."

Amoeba picked Sunset Boulevard over Hollywood Boulevard because Boyder and company, while welcoming tourists, feel their primary clientele is the local music lover. He said the aesthetics of the street also suit Amoeba.

"Sunset Boulevard is easier to access. The shops on Sunset are easy to visually access and then physically access," Boyder said. "A gut feeling to me is, more local people are cruising Sunset Boulevard than Hollywood Boulevard."


For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.