Never Leave a Record Unattended

What’s Going On
Marvin Gaye
TS310
1971
Tamla

A  few weeks back I was at 2nd & Charles in Naperville, IL, digging through crates of vinyl when I came across a pretty rough 1965 mono release of Decembers Children (And Everybody’s) by the Stones. The jacket was pretty beat up and the vinyl was dirty and scuffed (but no deep divots) and, I figured, a run through the Spin-Clean, and it would probably be relatively playable.

It had a price tag of $20 and my LP budget for that day was $25. So the inner debate started. Do I spend $20 on a rough and tumble Stones (probably as I’m currently in the process of building my Stones collection) or continue to hunt through the bins and buy 3-5 inexpensive LPs and stay within my budget (another probably)?

There appeared to be nobody else near the album bins, so I figured I’d continue digging and then come back to the Stones after I was finished flipping through the rest of the records in the store – a process which typically takes about an hour at this particular 2nd & Charles.

The mistake I made was leaving the Stones unattended because while I was going through the bins, I decided I’d bite and purchase the record. So I went back to where it was and…it was gone. My heart sank. I felt a surge of panic, like something was stolen from me. I looked around and didn’t see anyone carrying it with them – in fact, I didn’t see anyone else in the store.

I went to the clerk at the checkout counter and asked her if someone had just bought the Stones record and she said someone had – about 10 minutes ago.

What I learned from this miserable experience was never to leave records you may want unattended. From that point on, I decided that every time I go on a vinyl expedition, I was going to carry around with me every record I was thinking I may buy while digging through crates.

Is that rude to do so? To keep someone from accessing a record I’m carrying? I don’t care.

Is it a pain in the ass to carry arms full of records around with me while browsing? Yes. But, again, I don’t care.

Just the other day I grabbed up a well-loved Marvin Gaye What’s Going On and held on to it (with about 10 other possibilities) during my search.

When it came time to choose from my stack (of which What’s Going On was one of), I neatly replaced the ones I decided not to buy in their rightful place.

© 2017 Chris Barry

I’m Not Gonna Steal Your Fuckin’ Records

Let’s Get It On
Marvin Gaye
T 329V1
1973
Tamla

An empty jacket on the shelves means the store is keeping the corresponding LP behind the counter so you have to ask for it when you go up to pay.

I’ve seen this done with so-called premium or ‘rare’ records – the albums store owners think are going to get switched out with inferior records or – worse – stolen.

The stores have a million reasons why they do it: “people will slip an extra record into the sleeve,” “people will swap a beat up record with a record in good condition,” “people will slip the LP into their coat and walk out,” etc.

This retail practice is all about what people might do. Its indicative of a lack of trust that store owners have for their customers (or potential customers).

I get it – people steal shit. They shoplift. But if I decide not to come back to a store because I can’t examine the vinyl I’m about to purchase because the record’s being held hostage behind the counter, the store is probably going to lose a purchase – mine – and not just one but many. Many more purchases lost than any $5 (or $50) record jammed in someone’s pants.

But does a store care about its customers? If its one of those corporate stores like Half Price Books, probably not. They get so many people coming and going, they could care less who graces their threshold. The thing is though, if I feel disrespected, I’m not going back and I’m going to talk about the experience online in groups like Vinyl Addiction on Facebook. And write about it on this blog…and tweet about it.

Lets face it – empty jackets on the store shelves are a sign of disrespect. And condescending. And that you don’t matter. This is a larger customer service issue that goes deeper than trying to curtail shoplifting. It’s a corporate fear masked by a superiority complex that actually implies the customer doesn’t mean anything – that all customers are potential thieves.

Its anti-customer service.

As a paying consumer, I deserve the opportunity to look at what I’m about to buy. Not be christened as a potential thief.

© 2017 Chris Barry