RECORD STORE TALES Part 281: People of Walmart
You know what I really hated? (No, really this time!) Customers who went out of their way to tell us that Walmart or Future Shop or Best Buy had something cheaper. Much of the time, the customer wasn’t looking for a better deal on a CD. They just seemed to relish letting me know that somebody else in town had a cheaper price. Most of the time, I couldn’t have matched a rival’s prices anyway. Big box stores’ prices were often below our cost, because of the sheer quantities they purchased. Or, they sold a CD below their cost as a “loss leader” – getting somebody in the store to buy the new Backstreet Boys and taking a loss on it in hopes that they also buy other stuff.
I remember one obnoxious lady, in the store with her three kids.
“Do you know that Walmart has your Backstreet Boys CD there for $3 less than you have it? HAH!”
Really? You needed to throw that “HAH!” there at the end?
The truth was, I couldn’t have cared less. We had a pricing structure that allowed us to be competitive with other record stores. Walmart have it for $3 less? Then buy it at Walmart. I’m not going to be able to compete with them on the price of the new Backstreet Boys CD. Also, those big release sales were generally just for the first few days of release. By the weekend, their prices would be closer to ours.
Essentially we only carried new stock so we’d have those titles when customers asked for them. We made all the money on the used stock and accessories. If a customer came into my store and bought the new Backstreet Boys, great. If they came into the store looking for the new Backstreet Boys but also bought two or three used CDs with it, then that’s what we were aiming for. Sometimes we tried the “hard sell” at the cash register. “Now don’t forget to stock up on blank CDs and CD cleaner while you’re here! We have this CD cleaner for $5.99.”
You want cheap new releases? Great! Who doesn’t? If that’s what you’re after then by all means, go to Walmart. But if you wanted fair prices, lots of used CD selection instead of all the new releases, knowledgeable staff and a more personal touch than Walmart? Come to us. Put your name on a waiting list for a used copy of the new Backstreet Boys. When it comes in, it’ll be cheaper than Walmart’s new copies. As an added bonus you don’t have to look at the “People of Walmart” or be treated to their impersonal style. Not good enough? Then support Walmart and big megacorporations. No skin off my sack!