RECORD STORE TALES PART 108: Building the Store, Part 2
Last time, Statham posted something about a dream he had, of us putting together our own record store. I wish I could have had the experience of opening a store without doing work! The reality of it varied. On the couple of times I helped set up a store, it was hardly glamorous.
The first time was when we opened up the first store that I managed. It was the biggest one so far, lots of stock, all crap. Junk. Shite. Basically what we did was, maybe starting six months in advance, just buy lots and lots and lots of stock. Before long we had, I dunno, maybe 5000 discs, all garbage. Dozens of Jann Arden, Spin Doctors, Michael Bolton…I had so much Michael Bolton that he took up three fucking rows! I even had rare Michael Bolton. Nobody had rare Michael Bolton! Nobody wanted rare Michael Bolton! Then you’d go to the Metallica section, nothing. Kiss, a couple copies of Kiss My Ass. And we had soooo much country. We had buckets of country. And rap artists that you nor I have ever heard of.
Waltz back over to the rock section and browse the classics. Did we have any Floyd? Nothing. Led Zeppelin? Just the tribute album, Encomium. Meat Loaf? Bat 2, but not Bat. We had a couple of Rush discs, like Counterparts, but nothing from the 70’s. No Maiden. No Miles. No Dylan. No Hendrix.
We had no standardized pricing scheme back then. So, if I was pricing Eric Clapton’s Unplugged at $9.99, the guy next to me might have priced it at $11.99 because maybe he liked it more. It was very subjective. Sometimes you knew what a CD was worth brand new and based it on that, sometimes it was so common that it didn’t matter, and sometimes nobody had a fucking clue. We’d try to fix the pricing it as we went, but it was slow. After we opened, a customer would come up with three copies of the same album. “This one is $8.99, this one $9.99, and this one $11.99. Is that because one is more scratched?” Logical question! But no, we just cocked up.
It took weeks to manually input and price all those discs. Shelving them took a couple more days. Making the header cards, setting things up, all told we were at it for maybe a month. Then the big day came and we did our opening. We were only half-equipped: there was no second computer yet, and only half of our CD players for listening station had been bought. Signs were still arriving to be put up.
I’ll never forget our sign that showed up that said, “WE PAY CSAH FOR YOUR USED CDS!”
Regardless of how crappy the stock was, it sold! I couldn’t believe it! There were only a few decent albums and I figured once they were gone, that was it. That wasn’t the case at all. People kept buying the old rap and country discs. Tanya Tucker? Check! We had lots! And people were buying it!
Then, used stuff started coming in at a rapid pace. Crazy stuff too. I remember this one huge Tangerine Dream box set coming in, on the Thursday of the first week.
After we opened and good stuff started coming in by the box full, all the hard work seemed like it was paying off. But the setting up was long and tedious, and I couldn’t stand Todd, who was also on setup duty. But who gives a crap? I spent weeks doing nothing but data entry while listening to music (our own music, which we brought in – of course). I rocked a lot of Deep Purple those weeks. It was awesome.
I remember that I had just found two Purple albums that I wanted: Concerto For Group and Orchestra, and King Biscuit Flower Hour. I also rocked Purpendicular, which had just come out, as much as I could. Todd didn’t understand the music at all. All he was interested in listening to was Floyd, nothing else. He played Bush once or twice, but otherwise it was all Floyd. He really, really liked P.U.L.S.E. And he just murdered Floyd for me, for a long time.
When I listen to albums like Concerto and Purpendicular, it brings me right back to doing data entry in that store. Not a bad soundtrack to work to.