RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#410: Doing it Right
I’ve complained about the way I was treated toward the end of the Record Store Days, but that was a small part of my life there. In the beginning before we grew too big for our britches, it was a wonderful place to be. There were a lot of things we did right, and there are hundreds of great memories of that era.
What did we do right, or differently, to make it so special for us?
- No uniforms! I remember the staff at HMV had these ugly shirts they had to wear. We had plain T-shirts with a logo, which were optional most of the time.
- A better listening selection. Although the rules about this got more restrictive later on, back then we could listen to pretty much any one of the thousands of used CDs we had in stock. Big chain stores at the time had less flexibility in their playlists.
- I felt a real “all for one, one for all” attitude. It was inclusive. I felt like we were the up-and-comers, underdogs ready to take on the big record stores. Management were excellent at sowing this kind of feeling, that we were all on the same team even if we worked at different stores. When the owner took a step back and let others run the show, the feeling of camaraderie changed into a feeling of exclusion. Nothing lasts forever, but I felt much more job satisfaction when I felt like I was contributing to a real team.
- Rewarding the staff. We had an annual Christmas party, and an annual summer house party. These were epic. “Time to release the hatch!” As a store manager, I always did my best to reward my own staff, by buying them CDs that they wanted. I did this voluntarily with my own cash because that’s the kind of manager I tried to be.
- The owner was willing to help out. I remember him saying in a newspaper interview that he “still washed the windows sometimes.” While I never saw him wash the windows, he was always willing to jump behind the counter when we were busy. This continued even into my last year.
- People power. I don’t know if anything is more important in the workplace than the quality of the people you work with. Work is a second home. In some cases you spend more time with your co-workers than your family. Both the owner and his people were very good at hiring excellent staff. There will always be a certain percentage of bad apples and people who don’t work out, but I had the privilege of working with some of the best. I feel genuinely blessed to have the experience of knowing and working side by side with these unique folk
I’ve somehow managed to find great places to work with amazing people. Today I work with another completely different crew, and each and every one of them is awesome. I’ve never seen a more diverse bunch and that keeps it fun and interesting every day!