Saying goodbye to Madhatter

When Keith Bergman took ownership over the Madhatter Music Company last year, he had big plans for the place. Closing down was not one of them. “I had all kinds of plans for expansion and remodeling this summer,” Bergman said on the store’s MySpace site, “And a big ‘relaunch’ this fall that was hopefully going to keep us on the map for a long time to come.” But plans change when life takes unexpected turns. Due to complications during the pregnancy and birth of his newborn daughter, Bergman decided to put the music store on the backburner to become a stay-at-home dad. “She’s going to need some help in her early life. How much help, no one knows yet,” Bergman said. “Faced with that task, the record store – as much as I love it – kind of fades into insignificance.” The Madhatter Music Company has been an independent music store serving Bowling Green since 1988. Throughout the years, the business has been a strong supporter of the community, with especially close ties to the University’s radio station. According to Kristy Headley, former operations manager of WBGU, Madhatter has been both a financial and a promotional source for the station. “They have been a constant supporter with underwriting, our only constant supporter,” Headley said. “However we sell so few underwriting spots that perhaps it will not make a huge difference for WBGU financially.” But Madhatter embraces the college radio station through means other than monetary donations. “In another regard, Madhatter supports WBGU in other ways as well,” Headley said. “They play WBGU in-store, particularly when there are live DJs. The employees talk WBGU up to their customers, and they carry the CDs of many of the musical artists WBGU supports.” WBGU metal director Steve Lazenby has also taken advantage of all the perks that come with having an independent music store right next door. “Madhatter closing down does affect how I get some of my releases,” Lazenby said. “Most of the music I get into the studio is provided by record labels, but there are some artists that I feel deserve the airplay as well. When I can’t get a CD from a particular artist, I would usually turn to Madhatter and pay out of my pocket to get the release into the rotation.” If Lazenby ever needed an album that was not already in the store, Madhatter would allow him to place a special order at no extra cost. But for Lazenby, the best part about Madhatter came with the new management change. “Since Keith took over Madhatter, I’ve seen a great surge of metal come into the store and I had embraced that with open arms,” Lazenby said. “Metal is very hard to come by outside of purchasing it on the Internet, so I was very happy to be able to walk in and buy what I wanted at any given time.” This does not imply that other stores do not carry metal. Because of the growing popularity of the musical genre, metal sections can be found in other stores like Finders and Best Buy. But Madhatter went one step beyond just having a metal selection. “Madhatter was the only one that really stayed true to the underground and had those hard-to-find discs,” Lazenby said. The same can be said for the store about virtually any type of music you could imagine. Now, after 19 years of business, Madhatter will be closing its doors at the Bowling Green location for good on July 14. “The plan is to find some way to reopen this fall, in or near Toledo, on a weekends-only basis,” Bergman said. “More like a swap meet or a really cool flea market than a traditional store. We won’t carry the new releases but we’ll still buy, sell and trade CDs, LPs, movies, games, books and more.” Regardless of where a new store may open, community members will remember 143 E. Wooster St. as the home of Bowling Green’s largest vinyl collection, the place where nobody judged you on your obscure music tastes and the independent business that cared more about the community than it did about making profits.