Topshelf Records needs help! Inventory/Orders Trapped due to Awesome Merch Bankruptcy
UK & Austin based Merchandise company Awesome Merch and its distribution service Awesome Distro both shut down abruptly in late August after going bankrupt, and not only have customers complained about paying for orders that have not been fulfilled, it's also left a big impact on at least one beloved independent record label: Topshelf Records, whose founder Kevin Duquette says the entire label inventory of records and everything is currently being held by the warehouse's landlord. Awesome also owed them tens of thousands of dollars when they shut down including money customers paid for orders that they never got! Label founder Kevin writes:
* the mail order fulfillment company we partnered with, Awesome Distro, has gone bankrupt.
* they have abruptly shut down, owing us tens of thousands of dollars in revenue and forcing us to relocate 17 years worth of inventory immediately with no advance notice.
* they laid off their entire staff without notifying us, leaving us with no immediate way of shipping out orders or sending records to our artists on tour.
* the property management company they leased from is withholding access to our inventory, treating it as collateral, and citing that their agreement with Awesome creates legal ground for seizing everything in the building.
* we've launched a Kickstarter campaign as a preemptive measure to help aid with ongoing efforts to fund a legal defense, and to pay for mounting expenses associated with this disruption.
* our business is still operating. we expect we can endure this and not have to lay off any staff, continue paying out artist royalties, cover our expenses, etc. but we have started this campaign because:
* we don’t know if we’re vastly overestimating how dire this is.
* we don’t know if we’re immensely underestimating how dire this is.
* we don’t know more than we know at this stage, but we know we need help.
As Kevin says, it's complicated and there's a lot of information, and you can read his full post on the Topshelf Records website for much more.
Since being founded in 2006, Topshelf Records has released music by The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Pianos Become the Teeth, You Blew It, Braid, The Velvet Teen, Wildhoney, The Jazz June, The Saddest Landscape, Tancred, A Great Big Pile of Leaves, Field Mouse, Ratboys, Really From, Knifeplay, and much, much more. It was a major player in the development of the late 2000s/early 2010s emo revival and has continued to expand into multiple other genres of music and continues to put out great stuff all the time. If you're able, they deserve your help. We feel horrible for all those affected by this, and hope at least that somehow Topshelf can get their records back! Meanwhile, head to their Kickstarter campaign to donate.
As Kevin details, 'Awesome' was a UK company that opened a U.S. branch in Austin in 2018 and went on to work with lots of record labels, bands and more. We also worked with Awesome Distro in multiple ways in 2019 and 2020. They sponsored some of our SXSW events (you might have a BV tote they printed for us), and we were running our own little merch store through them for a couple of years, but we shut that one down in early 2021 and haven't worked with them since.
Update: Weakened Friends also posted that they're out $5,000 due to Awesome Merch taking orders days before going bankrupt: