Rainbo Records Shutters After Pressing Records For 80 Years (Corrected 11/15/19)

Rainbo Records' President Steve Sheldon announced the other day that after pressing records for 80 years the company would close and liquidate its assets—and not because of a business slowdown. Quite the opposite as everyone knows.

The company, currently located in Canoga Park, but started its California run in Santa Monica will close because the landlord has other plans for the property.

Sheldon issued this statement: "Dear Valued Customers, After well over a year of trying to negotiate an agreement with our Landlord to keep Rainbo on Eton Street, I am sorry to say that unfortunately we have been unsuccessful. Our Landlord apparently has other plans for this building and has demanded that we vacate the space. It is with incredible sadness that I must announce to you that as of January 31, 2020 we must be out of the building and Rainbo after eighty years will no longer be in business. Rainbo will continue to operate through December to complete all orders that we have in house now. We will cease to take any new orders immediately. We will help you as much as possible to get your assets that we may have in our possession returned to you or shipped to another supplier. You will need to request what you want returned by selection numbers. There will be a nominal fee to pack up components and ship them out and you will be responsible for all freight cost. No parts will be returned if you have any unpaid invoices with us. I am sure you might have some questions and I and our team will be here to answer and try to help make this transition as easy as possible. Sincerely, Steven Sheldon".

The unique Lened presses (developed by a company founded by Len and Ed) will probably end up either at Erika Records in Buena Park, or at a Nashville startup. A very sad ending even as vinyl sales continue to rise, and probably false grist for the vinyl haters' mills.

volunteer's picture

Sorry to hear this even though I recall multiple complaints about the quality of product produced by Rainbo.

volvic's picture

The list of greedy landlords that have shuttered restaurants, small mom and pop stores including CD and record stores here in NYC is too long to list. My naivete thought it was only limited to Manhattan. Guess greedy landlords are everywhere. Shame.

scottsol's picture

Real life is not so simple and greed is not always the prime mover. You would think that the landlord’s expenses would closely follow inflation, but there is a big elephant in the room called real estate taxes. These taxes are based on the value of the property and not that of any collocated businesses.

If an area gets hot the property values can skyrocket by very large multiples so that taxes can even exceed old rental rates. Under these circumstances the landlord must dramatically increase rates or end up losing the property.

4min33's picture

Prop 13 applies to all property which means the basis is fixed at 1 % and increases are limited to 2% per year.

It is possible that the property was sold recently in which case the basis is reset to the sales value.

volvic's picture

Prop 13 as someone else mentioned, limits tax increases, unless the building was sold. A quick check of the property taxes for the building shows: 2020-19; $28,796, 2019-18; $28,755, 2018-17; $27,542. So it is not the sales tax that is responsible for the rent increase. I mentioned greed because here in Manhattan there used to be a great store called Pearl River, which used to sell Chinese goods and trinkets. It was a large store with two floors where you could spend hours looking at old alarm clocks, lucky waving cats in unlimited sizes and colors etc. The owner told me he was paying $100,000 rent per month, once his lease expired the owner for no reason jacked it up to $500,000 per month. Pearl River decided to close shop. Whatever the reason for the owner wanting to increase the rent was not clear, perhaps he knew he could get more if it became vacant and he could rent it to another Duane Reade or TD Bank outlet. It doesn't really matter, the end result was that the owner thought he could get more moolah by simply renting it to someone else.

The warehouse that houses Rainbo was built in 1975, I have not looked to see if the building and parcel was sold but that would be my guess. Someone thought they could sell, cash in and create something bigger and better. Pity for Rainbo.

isaacrivera's picture

Keeps repeating itself over and over and over in NYC. Landlords regularly jack up rent arbitrarily and specially if the business in question is doing well. They figure any profit the locale is making should go to them, not the business. In my area, Brooklyn Heights, there are many storefronts waiting to be rented. Many have been for years, others keep opening new businesses and closing after a year. In this City, your expected rent is a business loss if the locale is not rented. So it's a win for the landlord whether they rent (they are getting a ridiculous amount of money, at least for a while) or not (they are able to declare a business loss for the same amount, which subsidizes income on another property). The Mayor was going to introduce legislation, but he never did, that stopped the practice and if a locale was shuttered for a certain amount of time, it would be considered that the market was dictating the monthly rent was too high, and the landlord would actually be penalized for keeping the place unrented. I think that would be fair and keep many more neighborhoods open and vibrant as well and slow down the incursions of national chains and promote local entrepreneurs.

volvic's picture

Same applies up here on the Upper East Side where I live. Many storefront windows are empty and have been for over seven years, since I moved here. Was walking along Madison ave and noticed a few empty windows that have been empty for over a year as well. How these poor independent retailers are able to survive is beyond me.

Tom L's picture

Here in St. Louis the overall cost of property is much lower but some landlords/owners do the same thing. Why? Many times they raise the rent, causing the business to close or move, and then the overpriced property sits vacant for months or years with the landlord collecting nothing!
It makes no sense to me.

isaacrivera's picture

It may be they get to declare the uncollected rent as a business loss and not pay taxes on some other income. At least that is how it works here in NYC. Say I own 2 storefronts. I set their rent at $20K a month. One rents the other does not. I pay no taxes cause I can declare I loose $20K a month on the vacancy making my effective revenue 0 even though I am actually collecting $20K every month.

volvic's picture

That is exactly how it works in many cities, which has resulted in the loss of second hand record stores that had been around for many years.

Ortofan's picture

... why isn't Rainbo relocating and remaining in business?

Michael Fremer's picture
Has been at this a very long time and probably has had enough. However I just heard today (I am in the U.K. at the Ascot show) that the presses may be going elsewhere to a new home (can't say where) and run by a new team of young people. So stay tuned!
Warren M's picture

There was a rumour going around that the presses were going to Erika Records (yuck) but since you say "new team of young people", I hope that means the rumour is incorrect.

Glotz's picture

We need more pressing running not less!

Why can't I win the lottery and help these guys??

DanaMck's picture

Not that I am happy about any business going under, but has anyone here heard a great pressing from Rainbo? I have not.

WesHeadley's picture

No it was not. They are consistently among the worst pressings I buy these days. Discogs has endless corroborating accounts.

Warren M's picture

When I first got into vinyl in the early 2000s, Rainbo was ubiquitous as they were one of the few vinyl pressing plants in operation. Their pressings were passable back then. Nothing great, but acceptable. In the 2010s (especially the last five years) they have gotten worse. They got so bad I just avoided their pressings altogether. The main flaws were non-fill/stitching, off-centre records, and general surface noise. I'd get a record that looked OK (none of their records look great - they all have this milky, scuffed up look to them) but would have random blasts of surface noise (either loud pops or ripping/tearing noises) throughout. It's quite clear that they were just pressing the records as quickly as possible and pushing them out the door with zero regard to quality. Even after the Beatles stereo box debacle, they just continued to get worse and worse. Hopefully these presses will be purchased by someone who actually cares about pressing quality vinyl.

eugeneharrington's picture

The irritating thing about RAINBO, at least from my perspective, is that they could press decent records but more often than not quality was shambolic, and that is being kind. I like indie band, The Feelies, quite a lot and the quality of their most recent albums has been horrible. They were pressed at Rainbo. When there is no aspiration to improve quality and no contrition over manufacturing defective product, then I think any business would be 'on the skids'. It is remarkable that this plant lasted as long as it did but in the end the consumer 'wises up' and votes with his wallet. There are a few more really bad offenders in this business and the sooner they too are gone, the better for the vinyl buying public. I hope the presses go to competent, well-intentioned end users who put quality first. There is a suggestion in the article that presses may be going to ERIKA? Now that would not be a good thing if my, admittedly, limited experience of this plant is typical. Erika pressed the abominable Jackson Browne album 'Time The Conqueror' back in 2008 or so. I eventually got that information out of Jackson's people. Kudos to Jackson and his organization though, they went to PALLAS in Germany for subsequent vinyl releases. I would like to think that my lengthy email correspondence with them at the time played a part in that decision.

Warren M's picture

I noticed a lot of labels who used Rainbo frequently have been pressing their records elsewhere lately - two recent examples are Sacred Bones and Polyvinyl. Both labels obviously got tired of having to replace defective pressings from Rainbo

I really hope the rumours of these presses going to Erika aren't true. They are also a horrible pressing plant (no better than Rainbo) and we don't need them to expand any further. Even worse, there is no way to identify their pressings from the deadwax runouts. The only way I can identify them is by the appearance of the centre ring.

jon9091's picture

but I won’t miss Rainbo’s shoddy quality pressings. Hopefully these presses end up with someone who will be able to get more live out of them.

creativepart's picture

Seeing the label that MF posted with this article made me think... I have Test Pressing on Rainbo that looks just like that. So, I looked and sure enough it's: Pell Mell ‎– The Bumper Crop SST 158. Never listened to it. Found it at a garage/lawn/tag sale.

PS. MF tha post above mine is SPAM. Which there was a REPORT button on your comment software.