Here we are on the 24th. Have you done all your shopping? Bought all the wine and food? Then settle in for the last update before Christmas. I always take a break from posting at this time, so check back in a few days and I’ll have fresh content again for you soon. Enjoy this Record Store Tale, and best wishes!
RECORD STORE TALES Part 255: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
December 24th. One of our busiest days of the year. Not the busiest though – that would often fall on the last Saturday before Christmas, on the 23rd, or our annual Boxing Day sale on the 26th. Nearly two months of buildup and hard work, and it’s all over in what feels like a blink!
The 24th could sometimes be a fun day to work. Not all customers were your typical cranky shopper, although we certainly saw those too. Many of our Christmas Eve customers were simply killing time. Some were spending their Christmas money a little bit early. Some didn’t care what day it was, particularly those who came in to sell CDs for cash.
Yes, many people did come in to sell even on Christmas Eve. A few were looking for credit to buy gifts, some were just looking for money to buy a Christmas dime bag. Either way it was always a busy day, and we were kept moving on our feet. Many dollars exchanged hands on the 24th.
I recall Christmas music was in such demand that a few years I was left with 4 or 5 Christmas CDs left in stock. Often these would be the ones that always sat, year after year, unwanted, unsold. As a person who’s never liked Christmas music, I could never understand the NEED to have it, just to listen to it once a year. To me, that’s what the radio was for. But I wasn’t there to try to analyze the wants and desires of the people. My job was to sell them whatever crap we had left.
The 24th was a messy day. Usually you could count on snow getting tracked in on the carpets (which were only cleaned a few weeks prior – why??). Also, most customers could not seem to put discs back where they found them. This was a combination of poor shelf design, customers who didn’t give a shit, parents that don’t watch their children as they tear the store apart, and people who didn’t know the alphabet. Discs would be everywhere by the end of it all, scattered hither and yon, with no rhyme or reason as to why they were left there.
I always wore a suit and tie on Christmas Eve. This was a tradition begun by the boss and owner in the early 1990’s, but I was the only one who carried on this tradition. The first time we did the suits T-Rev said, “I like it, it makes me feel important!” People do treat you a little differently when you’re wearing a tie.
After all the rushes of customers died down, we’d start hanging the signs in preparation for the big Boxing Day sale on the 26th. Buy 3 Get 1 Free! Or something like that. Not good with any other special offers though, so people would have something to bitch about. “Why can’t you stamp my card too?” Etc. etc.
One year (’96 or ’97) after close at 6 pm, the boss told me to stay late and help him hang these signs. They were big banners for our Boxing Day sale. He climbed a ladder to clip these huge hanging signs from the ceiling. I was there on the floor in my tie trying to hold the sign aloft as he worked. Then he dropped a clip to the ground and we couldn’t see where it landed. And apparently we didn’t have any spares.
On hands and knees I searched and searched. We even got out a flashlight to try to find the damned thing. No luck! Meanwhile the clock ticked and ticked. 6:30. 6:45. 7:00. The parking lot outside was quickly resembling a frozen ghost town, as people raced home to begin their own festivities.
Just as I found the damn clip on the ground, the phone rang. Normally I wouldn’t answer the phone this late after close on Christmas Eve, but my boss answered, and it was my mom.
“When are you sending my son home to enjoy his Christmas Eve dinner with his family?” she chided.
“Oh I’m sorry Mrs. Ladano!” my boss responded. “We’re almost done. You’ll have him soon.”
I think if my mom hadn’t called, we would have been there all night hanging those stupid signs!
At home there was plenty of hot food to enjoy, as I let my body relax after a long day of serious hard work. Thankfully I did not have to work Boxing Day, probably the longest most tiring day of the whole year. I therefore had two whole days to relax, watch movies, and spend time with the family.
On that note, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, be safe and warm this season. And most important I hope you all make it home on time and don’t have to stay late hanging signs!