Part 76: Free Sh*t

You shall not pass, nor get anything for free

Record store employees get a lot of free shit.  From shirts to discs to posters to the oddest promotional merchandise you can think of, they get a lot.

Used record store employees, like myself, do not!

Reason being?  The word “used”.  The record distributors automatically assumed we would sell everything that we got for free.  Which we didn’t, because we didn’t want to hurt our already tenuous relationship.  This is where my personal experience differs from the average record store guy.  I got very, very little free stuff over the years.   

Sometimes you’d see the odd promo disc arrive, but it was either something completely unknown that nobody wanted, or something like Much Dance 2002, that nobody wanted.

I did get a few things.  Most of this stuff isn’t around anymore, either given away or wrecked.  Here’s a complete list of everything that I personally ever got for free from a record label during my 12 year tenure at the store, and it ain’t much!  This stuff would just show up in boxes of discs that we ordered.

  • A Jon Bon Jovi golf ball, to promote his solo album Destination Anywhere.  Ended up selling it at a garage sale for 25 cents.
  • A very nice Green Day Nimrod sweatshirt.  It too was green.  Don’t know what happened to it.
  • I had to fight for this one:  A nice black Kiss sweat shirt.  The higher-ups didn’t want me to get it.  (Don’t know what they wanted it for!)
  • A Jann Arden “Insensitive” baseball hat. 
  • A Vince Gill blue denim hat.
  • Two rolls of Star Wars stickers to promote the DVD release of the Original Trilogy.  These have lasted a long time and I still have a partial roll.  You’d be amazed how many things look better with Star Wars stickers on them
  • A bunch of Yoda buttons to promote Attack of the Clones.  Gave these away to kids.
  • A bunch of Lord of the Rings buttons, to promote Fellowship.  Also gave these away to kids.

Of these things, all I have left are the stickers and the Kiss sweatshirt, slowly fading from many washes.  Not a lot to show for 12 years of the record store grind, but as I said, the record companies really hated giving us anything for free.  The funny thing is, other people (DJ’s, employees at other record stores) would come in and sell us dozens and dozens of promotional discs that they got for free.  So the irony is, even though we played by the rules, we got stiffed.  The other people who broke the rules got free shit all the time!  Ain’t it the way?

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