Record Store Day? More Like Record Store Life.
Record Store Day is tomorrow. So I shouldn't have been surprised when my editor said, "Hey, maybe you can write something about Record Store Day."
Makes sense. I do write under the moniker Record Store Geek.
It's just that my editor has only asked me for one specific column in the entire two years I've been here: My first one (Defending My Guilty TV Pleasure: Ancient Aliens). So I was surprised.
You think I'd be thankful I've had this much freedom (I am) and serve it up, but here's the problem: I don't want to write about Record Store Day.
But I'd love to write about record stores. Hell, I'll teach a class on record stores.
Steve Wiley Being a Record Store Geek has its perks. None bigger than meeting Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant.
What Qualifies You to Call Yourself Record Store Geek?
Trust me, my little pups, I have earned the right to wax poetic about record stores.
I started hanging out at Budget Tapes and Records in Minot, North Dakota, when I was in fifth grade and followed it to two different locations through High School. I begged Jon (who still runs the store to this day) for a job. No luck. When I went to college in Grand Forks, I "transferred" to Mother's Records and spent four more years begging. No luck.
I graduated in May 1987, and arrived in the Valley in September. By November, I finally got my chance atWherehouse Records (no, it wasn't my degree, let's just say the opportunities for an advertising major were slim).
I got my foot in the music industry door and spent eight years learning how to manage a record store. I also gained a massive appreciation for Dilbert through the navigation of corporate bullshit. However, I met enough cool people and got enough of a taste for the industry to know I liked it, so I worked hard and looked for opportunity.
But it wore on me. I knew that I could never become a true record store geek at such a corporate joint.
Ah Yes, This is Where I Belong
Then, in 1995, I was saved into the indie world by the late Brad Singer, the legendary founder of Zia Record Exchange (and "grandfather" to nearly every great indie store this Valley has ever seen), who recruited me to be the General Manager of his stores.
I gave my notice, and used the two weeks to earn my only disciplinary write-up in eight years by openly protesting the ridiculous red customer service vests they were making us wear (at a district manager's meeting).
(Note: I'd still like to burn one of those things - they were the fax machine of my Office Space.)
With the help of my unorthodox new mentor, I spent three years as the Zia GM, learning the true meaning of independence, profitable rebellion, and controlled chaos (one of Singer's phrases that my many old Zia mates will appreciate, especially since we had a lot more chaos then control most of the time).
Brad died suddenly (see the New Times archives for the cover story) in 1998, and all hell broke loose at Zia (that's the short version, the rest was also in New Times), which led me to join with two other Zia mates and form Hoodlums New and Used Music in the ASU Memorial Union.