Part 221: Frustration Blues

RECORD STORE TALES Part 221:  Frustration Blues

Sometimes, shopping in a music store can be a frustrating experience especially for those who don’t know a lot about music. They might not have a clue what section to find (for example) Linkin Park in. Are they rock? Metal? Alternative? Something else? Somebody who only knows a couple songs might spend a long time walking around aimlessly in a store trying to find Linkin Park.

Sometimes just the simple act of trying to find where Linkin Park is filed alphabetically can be frustrating to the uninitiated. Some people are confused. If Barry Manilow is filed under “M” instead of “B”, why is Linkin Park filed under “L” instead of “P”? This gets even more hard to understand when the band’s name sounds like a person’s name. Max Webster. Pink Floyd. The difficulty is tripled when you’re shopping in a store that has a loose grasp on the alphabet in the first place. Ever shopped at one of the local HMV stores?

Sometimes in order to find something, you might have to get the store employee’s attention. If he or she is busy with customers, please don’t yell across the store. “I can’t find anything in this damn store!” I’ve heard that too many times. Come up to the counter, wait until I’m done giving my full attention to my current customer, and ask. I know some people think they are more important than other customers, but that’s life. Sometimes you have to be patient.  And please don’t yell, “Hey, buddy!  Little help?”

Here’s a true story:  One of my staff members, Matt, was once hailed by a 300 pound Jamaican man with, “YO!  WHITE BOY!”

Be clear about what you want to know. For example, a lost customer once had this question for me:

Him: “Who designed your shelves?”

Me, slightly puzzled: “The owner’s dad built them. Why?”

Him: “Well is the owner’s dad dyslexic? Nothing makes any sense! You’ve got B coming after C, everything’s backwards, upside down, I can’t find anything!”

Hey, thanks for the feedback! Here’s how it works – it’s like reading the page of a book! Go across, then down. Across, then down. Across, then down. Then when you’re at the bottom, you go over to the next section! Across, down. Across, down. Across, down. No need to be a dick about it.

For those who get frustrated finding music in a record store, I offer you these three tips:

1. Before you get too frustrated and feel like blowing your lid, ask. Ask in a clear, reasonably polite manner.

2. If all the staff is otherwise busy with customers, wait your turn. Don’t yell, don’t interrupt, don’t get yourself all worked up over a CD.

3. If the store doesn’t have what you’re looking for, don’t tell the staff that they or their store sucks. Some kid making minimum wage doesn’t care what you think.

Following these three simple tips will make your shopping experience that much more efficient, stress-free, and pleasant. You might even want to say “thanks” for the staff’s help. Saying thanks will help ensure a better experience next time you come in.

Enjoy the music!




  1. I once went into a record store where they had Jefferson Starship in the “S” section however, I have had some record staff who were dicks. In a shop in London, I asked one member of staff who was sitting behind the counter doing virtually nothing if they had any Kreator t-shirts. He responded with “What Krate?” When I politely corrected him, he gave a gruff “No” and went back to doing nothing.


      1. Actually it was the then famous Shades in Central London which specialised in heavy metal. So he should have know what I was talking about, maybe it was my accent, although his colleague had been speaking to an American so minutes earlier. Although it has improved immensely in the 27 years I have lived in the UK, polite customer service is still something many British need to work on.


        1. We strived to be always polite and attentive but some customers make that very, very difficult. I’ve been called 4-Eyes, had my clothes made fun of, my hair…and since you’re at work you can’t exactly say, “Yeah, well look in the mirror buddy.”

          It almost felt like bullying and I guess in a way it is? “Thank you sir may I have another?”


        2. I know what you mean, it seems to be the opposite in North America. Customers think they can get sh*tty with you because if you say anything back, you’ll be fired. I know from experience, I worked as a market research interviewer for three and a half years. You’re spot on though, it is bullying.


        3. I felt like a punching bag on a lot of days, let’s put it that way.

          On the other hand, I knew by these experiences, one day I’d have a great collection of stories. As soon as my 5 year confidentiality agreement had expired I began publishing! So that was my light at the end of the tunnel. I always knew that one day these experiences would entertain somebody.


  2. I think iot’s pretty amazing to just get to read about record stores in 2013. In Sweden, or at least in Stockholm where I live, there are no record stores left except for a couple of second hand ones. To buy music online isn’t that much fun. I used to love going to record stores to see if anything cool had arrived.


    1. I moved on from the store on Jan 4 2006, so it has been a long time since. We used to check out several record stores in town on a weekly basis though, we had to make sure we didn’t miss something, you know?

      Today I can go online and find virtually anything I want when I want it, if the price is right…less fun is right.


  3. I remember talking to one of my students who worked at a gas station – people would yell at him about the prices being too high. It’s a kid making minimum wage, how is venting to this 16 year old going to solve your problem?!


    1. Yeah, and some people made special trips in to tell me that Walmart had a better price. One guy made a special trip in to tell me that he’d discovered the internet, he was never buying another CD again, and we were going to go out of business as soon as it caught on. THANKS BUDDY!


  4. Hey 4-eyed White Boy!! Service!!

    Great post. On the other hand I have been sneered at by staff in specialist record shops when I’ve gone in, wearing my suit. Dance places being especially bad for this.

    Funnily enough I went on a buying splurge at Probe Records in Liverpool today, great place, friendly counter dudes.


    1. The suit story reminds me of “High Fidelity”. “Oh I see, it’s pick on the lame guy in the suit today. Fuck you!”

      “Service!” I hate that one…but even worse was when they’d SNAP THEIR FINGERS.

      I always hoped somebody would say “Garcon!” but nobody ever did.


  5. You’ve probably also heard this one: “I just heard this cool song on the radio and want to buy the album. It’s this girl with a really high voice. You know which one I’m talking about?” Duh! I wanted to tell them to call the radio station and find out. Don’t expect the clerk to be a mind reader. Of course, it’s a pet peeve of mine that radio stations don’t tell who does the song at the END of the song instead of maybe just at the beginning. Sometimes they don’t even do that. I’ve heard so many songs I liked, which I just happened to get in on the middle of, and had to call the station to find out the artist or just jotted down some lyrics and looedk them up on the internet to try to find the song and artist. It didn’t used to be so easy, though, when I worked at a record store.


    1. Before the days of Google I’d always ask them to call the radio station for questions like that. Inevitably I’d get “Can you call them for me?”

      No! Get a new babysitter.


  6. It’s my practice to try to befriend people in record shops. Sound familiar? ;) Anyway, that way there’s somebody cool to talk to. And I have spent enough time in shops to know what i like and don’t like about layouts and display, but however they choose to do it is their choice. Nobody ever asks me.


  7. My local CD store is pretty good at ordering CD’s.
    Bands are sorted into genres and then ordered alphabetically.
    And on top of that there is a placecard thingy with the bands name on it to mark where their CDs start.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s good. That’s the way we used to do it. And as you’ll see in a future chapter called “Check Yer Section!” you will see we REALLY made sure everything was in its right spot!


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