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Something new: Smells like bean spirit

Olivia Rosenman

 

The era of iTunes and music downloads has dealt traditional CD and record stores around the world a huge blow. Tower Records sold its Hong Kong stores as far back as 2001 and declared bankruptcy globally in 2004; the Virgin Megastore in New York's Times Square closed in 2009, unable to remain profitable in one of the busiest locations in the world.

Hong Kong's HMV has not been immune from the squeeze either, but rather than quietly closing its doors, the local franchise, under new ownership, is reinventing itself by opening two music and lifestyle cafes this week - one in Happy Valley, the other on the site of the existing HMV in Central.

The latter will continue to offer a selection of CDs and DVDs but the focus at both venues will be on the "hmv kafé" concept. Courtesy of bean experts from caffe Habitu and The Coffee Academics, customers will be able to enjoy such musically themed offerings as the Ray Charles-inspired Blackjack (espresso mixed with Coca-Cola) and the Turkish March, which channels Beethoven via spiced coffee, milk and honey, as well as ones that tip a nod to The Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Louis Armstrong. The cafes will also provide tablets loaded with a library of music and fitted with hi-tech headphones.

The decor and branding stay true to HMV's original iconography - although the much-loved dog has ditched his wind-up gramophone in favour of a steaming cup of coffee.

Says Kelvin Wu, one of the franchise's new co-owners: "hmv kafé perfectly complements HMV's aim to be Asia's premier entertainment and lifestyle brand."

Both hmv kafés will open on Thursday - one at 18A Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley (tel: 2891 8558), the other at 3/F, Entertainment Building, 30 Queen's Road Central (tel: 2237 1315).

 

 

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