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 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.


mark said...

the music world will be poorer in your absence. and luckily, i will always be richer in your friendship. super excited for you guys!

Lee said...

What? What about your bail-out?

I can take it back to running, as you will notice certain shoe brands bending over backwards for the big box store, while the independent running store has to fight tooth and nail to survive. Adding further insult to injury, the technical knowledge of the staff of ANY family-owned business is usually far superior to what a consumer finds at the bigger stores. And as online purchases become the only way people shop, the domino effect will be felt even by the big chains. Still feel bitter? I could write a book, and I don't even own my own business! But your post reminded me that I'm not the only one who values the service and experience to be had visiting a small outfit.
And another thing, I think you should just go ultrarunning pro for a living. Your husband could train that big dog ya'll have to attack, then walk around KCK asking people for cash OR ELSE!

Anonymous said...

Lifes a journey girl. As I'm sure you already know. Glad to hear that your happy, and scared all at the same time but what the future may hold. Enjoy it while it lasts. These are the good 'ol days.

Jeremy said...

I have to start by saying I do not find this bitter at all, it is a great reflection on the last chapter of your life. Reading this makes me sad. As a independent music junkie and a small business owner, it is sad to see these types of stories. I commend you for jumping before it became too much of a chore. If it isn't fun, don't do it.

And remember, as Dr. Seuss said, “Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.”

Need More Words said...

No wonder your business is dropping when your clerk looks like that. Kidding, I love Otis.
You and Erik have a special magic. Whatever is ahead you will "star."
No guts, no glory. You guys have the guts.

HappyTrails said...

Sadly, small businesses are a dying breed. But, this is the start to a new exciting chapter in your lives, albeit a bit nerve-wracking. Maybe managing B Camp COULD be in your future someday!!! :-) BTW, Otis IS adorable!

Kim said...

I have no doubt you will find something to fill your time and heart.

Can't wait to hear what the new adventure will be...touring with your band or opening a vegan restaurant?

gerard said...

Hey Coleen

Sorry to read this news. Looking forward to seeing Otis while you guys go 'Down Under". Sorry I missed you on your visit, maybe we can get a short run in before LT100.


Jenn said...

Upon my nostalgic mood tonight, I found your link here on your FB and read over these two posts about Needmore. Man, I truly miss you guys! I have to say, I didn't buy a CD for four or five months after you guys closed! You know me, I'm a browser. Streetside is too big and too EXPENSIVE to attempt anything like that there. Plus, they're not local anyway. I know Vintage Stock is a chain, but I'm finding some of their locations may be my new "home"... yeah, I still buy CDs (even with my iPod)! I refuse to pay for digital music (I want a real CD!), which is really tripping me up on some of these damn local bands who only offer digital copies of their stuff. guh. Miss you guys (I haven't even had the heart to drive by the old store, even though I frequent that Big Lots)!