Interview with a Record Store Owner Essay

On a less then pleasant day the weather was cold and rainy so before I left the safety of my car I turned my collar up to face the cold and made a bee line to the store so fast it would put Usain Bolt to shame. When I walked in the store I was greeted by the smell of coffee and sound of The Rolling Stones song Monkey Man playing over the store speakers with the owner of the store john singing along to the song and throwing his arms up like a monkey.

As soon as you walk into the store your face to face with a giant rack of used DVDs ranging from Driving Miss Daisy to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre the store itself is not very big on the left side of the store is a shelf contain records from Abba to Rob Zombie on the right side is a shelf holding the cds. I was immediately welcomed by john who sitting down in behind his cash register with a sign on it that read “No Personal Check” behind him was a giant poster of Frank Zappa which seemed like one of his most prized positions john had.

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John had on a tie dyed rolling stones shirt john had looked tried and he seemed to be discomfort later I found out he looked that way due to having MS.

Before john and I stared talking I asked if we could take a walk around the store john told me that he is not able to “move very well because I have Multiple sclerosis” so he called for his employee Jack to walk with me and directed Jack to answer questions I have. Jack was tall and in his early 20s ,jack and I walked around the store looking at vinyl they had they had seemed to have every record you could ask for and if they didn’t have it they could order it for you . I asked jack to explain the process of how they value the used records that come in the shop jack pulled a random of the shelf and proceeded to go over the check list “first we look at the condition of the album sleeve any bends or damage to it second we look for the labeling “mono,” “monophonic,” “monaural,” “stereo” or “stereophonic” on the sleeve and record label, which identifies the recording process and helps us determine the value and finally we Evaluate the condition of the record by looking for any obvious damage to the vinyl. Jack holds the record up to the light on a slight tilt Look for scratches, record edge nicks or damage to the paper label” we have music here for everyone’s price range after that I thanked jack and retuned to talk to john.

When I came back to talk to john he had offered me a cup of coffee I accepted and went on to ask john how long has the store been open john told me that “I am the fifth owner of Rainbow Records; it first started out in Park Ridge in the mid-1970s. Then the store was moved to Palatine in 1993 by the fourth owner, who offered me the opportunity to buy the store from him in 1997 I then eventually moved the store to here”. I asked john what was the first record he had ever purchased john though for a minute and said “Surfin Safari by The Beach Boys when I was 9-years-old” I ask john why do you think vinyl sales are going up while CD sales are falling “There is nothing like vinyl It has a totally different sound than CDs or that MP3 stuff. I’m sorry, but you don’t listen to music on a phone and really get to appreciate it.” I said to john it looks like your store buys all types of records and CDs is there any type of music you won’t buy? “Classical no one asks for it so I don’t want it besides this is a rock and roll store”

John what do you think about kids that have never heard a record on vinyl? They are really missing out Vinyl has a great in-depth sound to it,” he says. “There is an art to what I call albums and what everybody called albums back in the day. From the cover, which is a piece of art in itself, to listening to, and appreciating the way songs are arranged from side to side, you don’t get that with any other music format.” Looking around the store and seeing I was the only person in there besides jack maybe because of the weather but maybe because the store isn’t doing so well I asked john what got him into the record business “If you think about how much money you’re going to make, that’s a mistake. You’re not going to get rich doing this. What you’re doing is sharing your love of music with other people,” after john told me that a smile came across both of are faces.

Before I had left the shop I walked around the store and picked up three records I think john would approve of the first one I got was The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed, Second album I grabbed was Surfin Safari by The Beach Boys and the third one was Frank Zappa Over-Nite Sensation. When I went up to john for the last time he could not help but to laugh as he rang them up as he handed me the bright yellow bag he said “enjoy” when I had made it home the first thing I did was put on my new rolling stones record put the needle on Monkey Man and turned my record player up to eleven.

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