Part 317: Rival

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RECORD STORE TALES Part 317:  Rival

There were very few people that I had standing orders to kick out if they ever came into the store. Sure, there were some. The Barefoot DJ was to be kicked out if he ever came in without shoes on his feet. The Creepy Twins, a couple of racist identical twin brothers, were to be kicked out if seen. The one that I remember most clearly was the owner of a rival CD chain. He was notable for his coiffed blonde mane. He looked like he was a member of Def Leppard, and still does to this day.  The fear was he would steal ideas for his own store.

That CD chain owner, who I shall dub Mutt Lange, had a longstanding rivalry with my boss, the owner of our stores. Mutt seemed like a total douche.  Just a pompous ass.  When we first started out, we based our pricing scheme on Mutt’s own catalog. He published an annual catalog, which we bought several copies of each year. When we first started creating our own price database, we used Mutt’s as the starting point. That really would have chapped Mutt’s ass if he had known.  I was even sent into Mutt’s locations to buy the newest catalog.  They needed to send someone that wasn’t recognizable.

I recall not really being into Mutt’s stores. I don’t remember ever buying anything there besides the catalogs. T-Rev found some old Saga CDs there, but it wasn’t really my kind of place. A lot of cheap mainstream “Super Saver” CDs, but not a lot of the stuff I was looking for. The catalog was useful, because it not only indicated retail prices, but would tell us if an album was still in print (or not).

My boss also checked out Mutt’s website regularly. I learned a valuable lesson there.

“Look at this,” my boss said while loading up Mutt’s site. “This hasn’t changed in three years. His site is exactly the same. He hasn’t added anything, he hasn’t changed format, or changed the look at all. It looks like a place that isn’t even in business anymore.”  That was a good point, so when we started up our own site, he made sure we gave it a good solid revamp semi-regularly. They’d change the graphics, the layout, and the way the search engines worked. That was probably the best lesson that I learned about e-commerce. Keep changing things up. People have short attention spans, but if it looks like your store is defunct, they’ll probably assume it is.

Back to Mutt himself – I recall seeing that blonde mane walk through my doors one summer day. It was actually T-Rev’s doors; I was filling in for him while he was helping to build a new store. And yeah, I had to kick him out!  Not a fun experience I wanted to repeat!

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19 comments

  1. I wonder. I mean, I get they didn’t want him in there, stealing ideas, but if they were at all confident in what they were doing, they wouldn’t have had to worry. They’d be all ‘look at all this goodness that you don’t have, suckaaaa!’ instead of posting his pic behind the counter and throwing him out if he showed up, like he was some sort of shoplifter. Actually says lack of confidence, to me.

    Did he ever steal any of their ideas, to warrant this ban? Or was this just a summary judgement that actually probably infringed on his citizen’s right to walk into a store in town. And he never threw you guys out of his store… It seems like overkill, to me. But, from a lot of your RSTs, I gather that that was fairly the norm on things like this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I never said he didn’t kick us out! That’s why I had to buy the catalogs. I believe at least one person was thrown out.

      This is pretty standard, I know others who have done this. It’s not lack of confidence, it’s just business.

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      1. Fair enough, though you also didnt say he had thrown anyone out, either, so from reading this we have no way of knowing.

        By your write-up it seems like you guys started it and had already stolen ideas from him, when you couldn’t prove he’d taken any ideas from your store:

        “He published an annual catalog, which we bought several copies of each year. When we first started creating our own price database, we used Mutt’s as the starting point. That really would have chapped Mutt’s ass if he had known.”

        Justified in any way you like, it still sounds like can dish it but can’t take it, to me. ;)

        As for standard business practice, I would still vote for innocent until proven guilty instead of just summarily throwing the guy out. But I wasn’t there, I didn’t see how he acted. Maybe he snuck in the stores all dressed in black, and slunk along the walls like a ninja, eyeing everything and storing it all away for later, who knows. Bloody ninjas.

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        1. I couldn’t say anybody was thrown out, because I wasn’t there and can’t ask the people involved. But I believe more than one were tossed.

          Businesses are very guarded about their proprietary innovations. It has nothing to do with the guy being a douche (which he is) but more about him watching how we did things.

          Before he closed up shop, he started selling used CDs. I cannot go into details but I believe this was done to compete with us. But like I said I can’t go into details of what I know about this.

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    2. Think of it this way. Business is war. You can’t let the enemy behind your trenches to see what you have and what you don’t. You’ve heard the phrase “Loose lips sink ships”. — This guy was ruthless at the art of business at war. I wish I could tell you what he did to us in Ajax.

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      1. All of this is true. Business is tough and competitive. Sure it is. I guess I just didn’t get why the hate-on from your RST. But if, as you say, there was so much more to the story that you can’t reprint here, then so be it. At least now we know that.

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        1. I wish I could have discussed Ajax, that would have made it crystal clear the kind of thing we’re dealing with!

          I probably could tell you, because I’ve kept it all anonymous, but it’s better if I don’t. I’m heading into the ending shortly and I anticipate a few ruffled feathers. May as well play it safe on this one.

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        1. No reason I can’t come back to it later. I wonder if you have figured out who Mutt is? Of course I won’t confirm publicly. My main concern is that he would be identifiable.

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      2. I don’t think I know who it is, with any certainty. It’s been 15 years since I left your town. And even if you told me, it might not mean too much to me now, anyway.

        My two cents: You should come back to it later, if you want the story told. As it is, this is half the story, and that’s OK as you still got to tell people a surface story of how you threw someone out of the store. I know your concerns about people putting two and two together, but anyone in the know who reads what you have shared here would already have guessed, if they know anything about that time and that situation. So, that’s why I said it’s all up to you, how much you share, how complete you want these RSTs to be. My comments were just probing, I guess, because it felt like there oughta be more to it – and as it turns out, this time, there was.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah I see that now. So consider this a character introduction. I can talk about this guy some more later.

          You may remember his stores. They were a big chain, much bigger than us. I don’t know if you ever shopped there. I think he was nation wide.

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        1. Now that we have discussed privately, I’m pleased you remember the store!

          If/when my sister ever gets around to telling her story of meeting Alan Frew, this RST can be some background info.

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  2. Enjoyed reading the dialogue between you guys. Thanks for running it through.

    Call me a silly old hippie liberal woos (never know how to spell that word or if US folks know its meaning; lacking courage, rhymes with Puss), but it seems that defensiveness and suspicion evoke the same in response.

    As soon as any idea reaches the public domain – whether in a shop or a blog – control is essentially relinquished, isn’t it? Personally, I’d never patronise a store where I saw someone being evicted simply for being there. It just seems so territorial and wrong. But maybe that ‘defend your turf at all costs’ approach is powerful round your parts. No idea really. But I sympathise with any worker required to be enforcer too. Not fun, and probably vexatious to the spirit.

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    1. This was a very cutthroat industry in the 90’s. I wish I could go into more details publicly but this was a serious rivalry. It goes a lot deeper than what I alluded to here. Myself and some of the other guys, when we were out CD shopping, we were treated like “the enemy” at some stores.

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