Anyone here ever owned a record store?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Richard Travale, Mar 18, 2004.

  1. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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    Has anyone here owned a record/cd store? What does it take to own and operate such a beast.
    The reason I ask is that some weird things are happening all at once in my life. First off, I'm unemployed, second, a friend that has owned a record store in town for 6 years has decided he is retiring from the game and third, I just happen to be reading High Fidelity for the first time. For some reason all of these things coming together has put an itch in my brain telling me that I should buy the store from my friend.
    I wouldn't be going into it expecting to become wealthy but I would like some opinions from other people around here. Especially those of you that have successfully run a small record store...or any small business for that matter.
    I would like to know if I'm insane to be even considering this as my only credentials are a love of music. I have no business background and frankly wouldn't even know how to go about running a store. Neither did my friend though when he started out, and he seems to have made a good go of it.
    I would appreciate any and all comments on this.
     
  2. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    If you were starting the business new I would say it's probably a bad idea. but since it's been around for awhile it might not be bad if it has a loyal customer base. The problem with a record store is that in the long-run it will be obsolete. 10 to 15 years from will anyone listen to any physical media at all? Maybe so, but I really think everything will move to download. Plus, many people who still buy LP's and CD's purchase them off the internet for much lower prices than you will be able to offer in your store.

    I would ask for his accounting books and take them to someone who knows what they're looking at. If he's been making plenty to live on for the past couple years, and you really think you can do it, then go for it. But don't take his word on how the store is doing. Even though he is your friend, money can do strange things to people and he may be so desperate to get out that he will do it even if it means screwing you over.
     
  3. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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    From what I can tell, he hasn't even thought of selling the store. He plans to just stay open until his stock is gone and then not resign the lease and go away.
     
  4. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    My ex roommate (who moved back to New York last September) co-owned a record store in Seattle for about a decade. He himself had an encyclopedic knowledge of music, and his partner had all the bookkeeping skills. You may have an easier time if you had access to someone with these skills.

    And when I say an "encyclopedic" knowledge of music, I don't mean just a love of music. This guy has massive amount of knowledge of performers, musicians, vocalists, songwriters, producers, and even engineers, and who worked with whom and when and for what label. He knows how to read the markings on a record sleeve or label or inner groove in order to determine which pressing he is holding in his hands. He also has massive knowledge about music that he himself doesn't necessarily enjoy. Being knowledgeable helps him sell to a wide audience.

    He knows what records are "worth" (in terms of "book" value) but he also knows their "street" value, i.e. what people in this town are actually willing to pay. Also there are regional differences. He would take trips to Canada or LA or NY or England and bring records to trade. Records that are worthless in Seattle are worth $$$ in these other places. Also he scours record conventions for new merchandise. Someone selling country LPs might have an original mono copy of the Beach Boys Pet Sounds in excellent shape for only $3 because he doesn't really know what it is. Also, he trades with other dealers. Records that are worthless in one store might be desirable in another shop in the same general area.

    As for the longevity of the vinyl market, I don't think you have anything to worry about. Collectors who prefer vinyl will continue to seek out LPs for a long time. Many of them are willing to pay $$$ for what they want, and really nice copies of original pressings of things like The Beatles and Velvet Underground are disappearing, so the prices have nowhere to go but UP. Many of them prefer not to use the Internet (or don't even have it!) and like to inspect merchandise before buying. Of course, you can always use Ebay or Gemm to supplement your "brick & mortar" operation. We successfully sold some rare expensive Beatles albums on Ebay that weren't going to move in Seattle for anywhere near their proper value.

    Hope this can be of some help! Best wishes.
     
  5. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    The record store will be dead in a few years, I know someone that owns one- but makes most of their money on selling other items (like "gifts" and supplies for people who play darts and pool competitively).

    The cd and record element has little money, outside of the used CD sale part.

    -Vince
     
  6. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    I'll never understand the attraction of downloading music and listening to it on your computer. I like the excitement of buying something and opening it up. I don't buy anything used unless it's something that's no longer in print though- when I go to stores that specialize in used records I usually check for things like movie soundtracks, comedy albums and old kids' records, and of course 8-tracks if they've got them, and laserdiscs and CED videodiscs. I've rarely seen any current items like DVDs sold used at a price low enough to justify buying it that way to save money, in fact I've seen some used DVDs selling for MORE than what I got them new for!
     
  7. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    You're absolutely in the minority- the majority of record buyers being teens and college kids- and every extra dollar counts. Even at the old age of 27 (wink-wink) I almost NEVER buy new CDs-- mostly cause what I like is never caaried in "new" form by record stores-- but also I can always find stuff in the $1 or even $.50 bin that I want- whereas I will practically NEVER justify spending $12-17 on an album.

    -Vince
     

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