As someone who spends a lot of time in record shops (and who therefore tends to avoid them on RSD) I often hear people extolling the virtues of ‘knowledgeable’ staff at stores. Now, I usually go into a record shop for two reasons- I either know exactly what I want or I haven’t a clue and am quite prepared to browse. The last thing I need is ‘advice’ from someone behind the counter whose musical tastes might be completely different to mind and who might only be interested in showing me how ‘knowledgeable’ they are.
Also, if ever I do have to ask something of them (a release date or something, or a minor discography query) the first thing they do is search the internet. I can do that at home. And if they haven’t got the title I’m looking for they kindly offer to order it for me But, again, I can do that from the comfort of my sofa. I don’t expect a record shop to have everything I want and part of the joy is being disappointed. The offer to ‘order it in’ is kind and well-intentioned but it’s not what I go to record shops for. It’s not part of the experience.
The only time I can remember a member of staff at a record shop being useful was during a trip to San Francisco last year. I was in Amoeba (and it’s really huge) and I couldn’t find the Jazz section. I asked an employee and he politely pointed me the way. But, thankfully, he didn’t recommend some early Charlie Parker as he did so.
So, staff at record shops. Take my money, put the record in a bag. Show me the Jazz section if I need it and don’t say ‘we can order it for you’. Do that and we’ll get along just fine.
Oh, and one final point. Staff at Sister Ray in Berwick Street. Don’t sneer at Little G when she goes up to counter and asks for a Dolly Parton CD for her gran. I know you did it. She told me…