Thursday, July 2, 2009
All Things Must Pass
This post has bugger all to do with running.. so if that's all you're here for you can skip this post and I won't be offended!
For the past 6 years, my entire life has been taken up with owning a record store with my husband. In the beginning owning Needmore Discs was definitely a 24-7 job, but then as we got things running, it smoothed out and we were able to relax.. kinda.. I don't think any small business owner ever REALLY relaxes! We were able to pay off the business in the first 2 years of operation thanks to our uber-loyal client base... and things were fun. On a busy Saturday we could have a store wide conversation going amongst complete strangers..maybe over which was the best Beatles album, or maybe the differences in LP sound vs. CD sound. We did midnight sales for big new releases and sponsored a weekly show called "Boozeday Tuesday " at a local bar which all sorts of great local bands played at, we donated money and gift certificates to local high schools, and bands and whatever worthy causes we could.
But then slowly, slowly things started changing, customers who always swore they'd never download started coming in less frequently and when they did they sheepishly admitted, "yeah, I got an iPod". More and more people started bringing in their entire collections of CD's to sell, telling us "I'm going all digital". Then the record labels got into the action.. suddenly all these big artists started releasing CD's exclusively through W*lmart or T*rget or B*st Buy, or just making it available for download only.... we just got more frustrated and hurt too. The independent record store has been the cornerstone of music since the first LP's but it seems everyone has forgotten that... or just doesn't care anymore. And honestly I'm not blaming anyone, it's so very convenient to pick up a CD along with your new shirt or toilet paper.... or with 1 click, download it right to the computer or order it online to be delivered in just a few days, instead of driving across town to a separate store.
For the first time ever, we didn't have the new generation walking in the doors all wide eyed and excited. It was always so very much fun to see the kids discovering "new" music.. watching their tastes progress, and getting to turn them on to obscure bands and have them turn us on to new bands too. We watched them grow up, start driving, go to college, and come back and visit us over vacation... but then it stopped. The 13 year olds were downloading.. they didn't give a shit about CD's, most of them had never even owned one. Nothing wrong with that, but it makes me sad... I love browsing book store, music stores, junk stores... I can't imagine growing up not having done that my whole life. Walking into a dark, stuffed to the gills, musty smelling record store or book store for the first time, not knowing what sort of treasures you might find is like Christmas, Halloween and my birthday all rolled up into one.
When it came time to renew our lease, Erik & I looked at each other and just decided that we didn't have the heart to do it anymore. It stopped being fun a few years ago, and with the economy tanking it was getting close to being not economically viable anymore either. We decided to jump before we were pushed. August 2 is our last day of business. After we close up and pack up whatever is left we're going to spend a few weeks in Colorado and then after I run the Leadville 100, we're hopping a plane for Australia for a month. Time to regroup, renew and decide what the heck we're going to do. I don't want anyone to walk away from this post thinking we're bitter, because honestly we're not. Both sad and excited, but not bitter.... just wishing things were different. I'm going to miss the hell out of a lot of my customers.. there are people I have seen every week for 10 years now.. they have become family and I'm going to truly miss them.
(reading back over this post, I sound really old and mildly bitter...next thing you know I'll be yelling at kids to get off my lawn!!)
Listen to the Minus 5 "Down with Wilco" CD (or download it, you philestines) while reading this post.. somehow it fits it perfectly.