Thursday, October 05, 2006

die, indie stores, die!

Today, CNN is running an article lamenting about the possible demise of the indie store, due to the popularity of online retailers like iTunes and Rhapsody, as well as big chain stores such as Target and Best Buy. Having worked at both an independent record store, a chain music store, and a media retailer, I can say that, at least in Seattle and possibly San Francisco, our beloved indie havens are safe from closure.

When I was working at Easy Street Records, it was probably the most comfortable atmosphere I'd ever been in, as far as retail goes. You don't have to wear stupid name tags or attempt to have an add-on sale such as a subscription to Entertainment Weekly like you would at a Tower or Sam Goody. Because the employees were comfortable, the vibe of the store reflected that. I can name at least 10 people who would always show up for our midnight sales on Mondays, versus the nameless people who would inconsistently pop-up at Tower. And places like Best Buy don't even have midnight sales, unless they're debuting a new video game platform.

But I guess that's all small stuff. What it really comes down to is that music fans -- real music fans and not just people who hear a single on the radio -- will always go out of their way to get the full-on record store experience. People who frequent these stores go there to converse with employees and exchange thoughts about pop culture, as opposed to the chain store experience which is about getting people in and out quickly while making a profit.

I understand that this may be a little bit harder in smaller towns where independent record stores may not exist and that Wal-Mart may be the only music store they have, but the Internet is changing that. It's weird to think that a store like Sonic Boom Records existed without a website (or at least one that wasn't as user-friendly as their current one), but it did; and now with name drops by bands like Death Cab, Jimmy Eat World, and God knows who else, the store probably does a considerable amount of business online.

To people who aren't really aware of the independent record stores that do well, it may seem like a fluke or a dying outlet, but perhaps there's a reason why a store like Easy Street is still alive and kicking while four blocks away, Tower Records is a ghost town, in all its Chapter 11 glory.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home