RECORD STORE TALES Part 222: Mr. Self Destruct
In a previous chapter, I mentioned that in 1994, I had created our store’s very first online ads. They were in colour, made in full glorious ANSI, and eye-catching. We even had a flashing logo on screen! I did this for free, because I was so passionate about the store. And it was fun! (Tip: One thing I had to learn was that if you do something for free once, it becomes expected later.)
The reactions were mostly positive. One guy, a 14 year old kid who went by the online handle “Mr. Self Destruct” (I think his real name was Justin), posted a message that was a bit of a wake up call.
“The kind of things I look for,” he said, “like imported Nine Inch Nails and Pop Will Eat Itself singles, you can’t get at a mall store like the one that Mike works at. You can only get those downtown, at the good stores.”
That burned! So I decided to do something about it.
The boss had always told T-Rev and I to order stock that we thought the store needed. We both took this to heart. T-Rev for example made sure we stocked things like the new Guns N’ Roses single (“Sympathy for the Devil”) and several other up and coming titles. Later on, Trevor made sure we stocked all the Oasis singles. I took care of the Nine Inch Nails side.
I ordered in “Sin”, Pretty Hate Machine, “Head Like A Hole”, Fixed, and Broken. Fixed had just been deleted, we missed that one. I ended up buying copies of “Sin” and Pretty Hate Machine for myself (we ordered 3 copies of each). Unfortunately, it wasn’t like having a few of these titles in stock changed the fortunes of our store. They sold all but immediately, but there was no sudden and dramatic jump in numbers. Yet, by summer 1995 we had a much cooler selection. I like to think we made a difference, albeit a small one, to music lovers. We sure did try anyway. It was more about just loving the job and store, and wanting to give 200%.
By that summer, we were even carrying live bootlegs. The boss picked them up in Toronto, and he’d walk in with a box full of 20 or 30. I remember T-Rev and I drooling all over them and the boss warning us that there would be no discount on these puppies! (I didn’t need a discount to want them!)
This period circa 1995-1996, was probably my personal peak at the record store. It was my peak time for happiness, for motivation, input, pride, and satisfaction. It was a time of mutual respect, fellowship, and hard work. I loved every day of it.
Our inventory now had some stuff that you couldn’t get at the cool downtown stores. I still have some of the bootlegs that I bought: bands like Guns N’ Roses (Covering ‘Em) and Nine Inch Nails (Woodstock 94). There were lots more titles (such as the Pearl Jam edition of Covering ‘Em), and our boss would try to get multiple copies of the good ones, like Nine Inch Nails. We even started getting in Japanese imports! I remember when we carried Hormoaning, by Nirvana, it was like $60 with taxes. The one guy who bought it had to trade in most of the rest of his collection to buy it. My buddy Aaron got the other copy.
I spread the word online, and a few of those people became customers. Guess who was among them? Mr. Self Destruct!