July 21, 2006



Julianne Shepherd: "I worked at a corpo record store, in 1997, in Springfield, Missouri, a part-time gig to supplement my tips as a shot girl at the local club. The store was attached to a Starbucks in a strip mall and we could only play store-bestsellers on the stereo system, which meant that all I listened to for an entire summer was Puff Daddy & the Family's 'No Way Out' and Deana Carter's 'Did I Shave My Legs For This?'. The corporate environment was like an equalizer: we sold independent records (i.e. Magic Mike bass xplosion; Helium) but side-stepped record-shop snobbery, because most people wanted to buy either the Ozark Mountain Daredevils and/or Biggie, usually on cassette. Also, if I appeared salty or churlish, customers would offer to pray for me, so I feigned cheer as a defense against evangelical Xtianity.

One 'archetypal indie record store' maxim held fast, though: if you're a girl who works in a record shop, while people might trust that you know what you're talking about, generally, your male cohort is assumed to know more. So in that sense the 'archetypal indie record shop' can be like a real-time version of the blogiverse.

Sometimes I go to Beat Street on Fulton or that one tiny record store on Flatbush and Seventh in Brooklyn (does it have a name?), but usually I just get stuff from the interweb because it is cheaper. And I work for an online record store (urge.com), so, duh."

J.D. Considine: "I worked my way through college in a record store. We were an indie store based in a shopping mall—this was back in the days of LPs and 8-tracks, long before Sam Goode defined the suburban shopping mall music store as a badly-stocked shithole—and the owners discouraged anything resembling clerk snobbery. They liked the idea of selling records, and encouraged the staff to share its knowledge with customers. I was there for almost five years, and finally quit after getting yelled at for playing Ian Dury's 'Plaistow Patricia,' which, admittedly, wasn't an ideal selection for a suburban shopping mall.

I've never had any particular problem with snobby record store clerks, but I do get bugged by snobby stores; that is, places that file stuff based on some system that presumably makes perfect sense to the owners/staff, but mystifies me as a customer. Soundscapes here in Toronto is particularly annoying that way, subdividing its wares into style-based ghettos. I'm never sure whether the idea is inclusion or exclusion.

Back in the late '80s, I used to be driven crazy by the Tower Records in D.C. near GWU; it had a good international section but limited understanding of geography, which made browsing more of a struggle than it should have been. I also remember going into a Kemp Mills store in Baltimore once and finding Wayne Kramer filed in the rap section. When I suggested to the clerk that he might sell better in rock, she replied, 'Yeah, but that's the way it is in the computer, so we wouldn't be able to find it if we moved it.'"

Posted by Sasha at July 21, 2006 10:19 AM | TrackBack