Part 252: That Smell

RECORD STORE TALES Part 252:  That Smell

Working in a retail environment with the public exposes one to a variety of interesting smells.  90% of customers didn’t have a particular smell to them.  They were pretty inoffensive.  However, about 10% of customers did have distinct odors.  Here are the Top Five things that customers in my store smelled like:

4% – Weed

If I had to break it down, I would say the majority of customers that smelled like marijuana were shopping in the rap section.  The red bleary eyes were also a giveaway, but some of these kids just reeked of pot!  Didn’t matter if it was 10am and they were selling their CDs to buy another dime bag, or if it was 7pm and they were looking for fast food money.  They were omnipresent.

3% – Booze

I’m only hoping that the customers who had booze stench on their breath were not driving.  (At the end, I worked on the “wrong side of town,” many of my customers could not drive anyway.)  Never mind the fact that some people would be coming in piss drunk at noon on a Wednesday.

1% – B.O.

The dreaded body odor stink afflicted men and women alike.  The only thing they had in common: customers with B.O. were always oblivious to it themselves, even though my eyes were watering.  Many times these guys were construction workers on break, but not always!

1% – Really strong perfume or cologne

I had a few customers who were used car salesmen.  Apart from impeccably trimmed moustaches, they often wore too much Drakkar Noir.  There were also plenty of women that smelled so strong you couldn’t breathe.

1% – Bad breath

Halitosis isn’t fun.  Some of the people who knocked me out with their breath looked like their teeth weren’t doing so well either, particularly at the stores located on the wrong side of the tracks!

If you enjoyed this, perhaps you’ll enjoy Record Store Tales Part 57:  Top Five Things A Record Store Smells Like.



  1. All three record stores I worked in back in the ’80s were in the mall, so there was pretty good air circulation and aromas were mostly non-existent (beyond the occasional perfume/cologne offender). However, I’ve noticed that in most used record stores and especially record fairs, body odor is a big affliction. It’s usually the über-collectors who probably spend too much time worrying about which label is printed on the CD or the font used on the LP spine to be bothered with showering or using deodorant. The biggest problem with B.O. is that it seems to linger a lot longer than the other smells you mentioned.

    Anyway, I hope your day is filled with only pleasing scents.


    1. Thanks for reminding me — BO does linger! It can hang around long after the offending person makes their purchase and leaves.

      I work in a steel mill now so the smells are, errrr, richer.


  2. Try working in a big box store, where the stinky “cat ladies” come in every week to buy their cartloads of cat food and litter. Now THAT’s a nasty smell….


  3. You missed two others:

    1) hardcore cigarette smokers. Smell those manky bastards from twenty feet away… and then they walk closer to you… (gags just thinking about it)…

    2) fresh off the farm to do errands, hopped in the truck down at the barn without first stopping at the house to wash up…

    Man, I’ve worked frontline customer service with the unwashed masses for years. I feel your pain.


    1. Good call on #1 there. I didn’t see (smell) too many of #2 where I was, but perhaps some of our other stores would. Guelph for example maybe…they study agriculture at the university there.


  4. Ha ha. I’ve had a similar job and I definitely agree. Although the booze and B.O smells were much higher in frequency. Could’ve just been my clientele though.

    I also have a smell I can’t identify, that I like to call “rotting coats.” You get people who have owned the same coat for years and it gets damp and you get this sort of “musty” smell radiating out of them that clings to all your shelves and stock all day after they’ve gone.

    On a side note, that is one of my all time favourite songs.


    1. It’s a great tune for certain! Definitely a classic.

      Rotting coats. I know the smell. Awful. I worked with a guy who wore a rotting coat. He was a nice guy, but I guess if you had to lump him in with a label I’d call him a chain smoking hippie! We called it “old man smell” but I think it was mostly the rotting coat that made up his smell.


      1. Yeah, I totally get that. It is a lot of elderly customers who had that type of coat for sure.

        I wonder what it is? Does bacteria start to grow when the coat get damp and then it just builds and builds.


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