trish bendix

She’s into the Upsetters

Posted in Uncategorized by trishbendix on March 19, 2008

In the Reader this week, they printed Miles Raymer’s blog post about my hometown Kalamazoo and its lack of record stores. Growing up, the music stores were limited to the Sam Goody in the mall and the CD section in the Meijer. A couple of years back, they at least had Music Express where you could buy used CDs like the Pony’s album I bought there (the last time I remember purchasing music in Kalamazoo.)

It’s sad to think that a college town with great venues like Kraftbrau and the State Theatre is lacking anywhere to actually buy a hard copy of a CD, much less ask a clerk’s opinion or just browse through physical isles and end caps. It’s part of the experience. I can definitely say I’d have more fun running through Ameoba for hours than browsing iTunes for ten minutes. It’s part of the fun of music.

I’ve worked at two record stores in the city–one is now replaced by a huge Barnes and Noble and the other has turned into a Forever 21. The former (The Crow’s Nest) was independently owned and it was my first job in Chicago. I wanted to work there so bad that I was persistent despite their rude employees shaking their heads at me when I asked if they were hiring. I finally tracked down the manager and got an interview.

Working at the Nest was a great experience, despite the awful pay. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “Is it like Empire Records?” perhaps I could have enough money to have kept the store open. (Actually now the owners own another downtown record store, Rock Records. It’s much smaller with less selection.) It was like Empire Records only in the respect that I had fun working and not working with my fellow employees (half of which were friends before they became employees because my gay boss would give any cute boy friend I had a job), and that we could play whatever we wanted. Once an old woman complained about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and my boss turned it up louder.

I had to leave the job when I moved to Los Angeles for the summer, but came back to get a job at Virgin. It was a bigger company, less friendly, more expensive, but just like at the Nest, every one of us were kind of specialists in on our own way. If someone had a question about a rare Paul Oakenfold remix on a  7″, we knew who to call over; in this way, I got all of the “girl” questions and any other bands that sounded like Interpol. (I once actually had a guy come up and ask me if I’d heard of this band Joy Division because he loved Interpol and had some friends tell him he should check them out.)

Empire Recordswas on TV the other day, so I was reminiscing even before I happened upon the Reader article. In Chicago, I mourn the loss of many different record stores that have disappeared since I’ve been here–The Crow’s Nest (two locations), Hi-Fi, even Tower Records. But Kalamazoo having access to none of the record store experience is an even more depressing thought, as an employee or music fan.

One Response

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  1. jamiemurnane said, on March 19, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    my name’s not freakin’ warren.

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