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Thursday, April 19

On Record Store Day, "Pop-Up Leeches," and the Point

or Every Day is Record Store Day, or Save Thyself, or Call Me Jeffersonian, or All You Need Is Love and $20.

Last year, I was quite pissed when I heard about Numero Group's successful Record Store Day (RSD) pop-up store in Wicker Park. My thoughts were, "Wow! What a cool concept!" quickly followed by, "Why in the FUCK are they doing it on RSD?" I heard no feedback or uproar on it from other quarters, and so I figured I was the only one who cared about it. Last April, my mother had just passed away after a long fight with cancer, and I was busy figuring out how to deal with not having parents and simultaneously trying to dig myself out of the deep work hole I had dug for myself while I was in Texas helping to care for her. A RSD pop-up store was not first on my list. But it did stick with me.





In early November, I wrote up an open letter to Numero, and anybody else who was not a record store but was thinking about opening a pop-up store on RSD to take advantage of the day for themselves. I had every intention of posting it on our blog, but because of my deep respect for Numero and what they have managed to pull off, how well we sell their stuff as a distributor, and how much I and we love their label just as fans, I decided to take the issue up with them via email. On November 10, I sent the following letter over to them and waited (edited only for typos).
Hi guys. 
First, we love you.  
Second, I write to implore you to NOT do another label specific pop up store on Record Store Day. Why? Because it's Record Store Day, not record label day, or music distributor day, or anything else. Please do it any other day of the year, just not that day.
I think it was awesome that you had a huge success with the last one, and I am certain that you would meet with equal, if not greater, success doing the same thing on a weekend that wasn't RSD. If you, Drag City, Thrill Jockey, etc., all did your own stores, imagine how much that would hurt the stores who are supposed to be benefitting from this whole concept? Most of our shared customers who still choose to purchase music only have a limited amount of disposable income, especially week to week. By opening your pop up on that day, you directly siphon bucks out of their pockets that would likely be spent in an every day record store, one with every day employees and every day expenses to cover.  
I run a label and have employees. I understand the impulse to do something, anything, to bring in additional cash flow. I do. And I support it. Just please, not on RSD. Start Chicago Label Pop Up Store Day. I'd be behind it 100%. 
Heck, work out a RSD deal with a local store/stores to take a corner of the shop and make it all Numero and work out a percentage. We'd do that in a second, and I'll bet other shops would as well. At least people would be drawn into the store that way.
Every week it seems that we find another store going down. Some new ones are also opening, but the trend is still down. We in Chicago are fortunate to have the strongest market in the US supporting brick and mortar retail stores. If there's another city in the country with more, I've not found it. I'd love to see that continue, and if giving them a couple of days to themselves to prosper is what it takes, then I think all of us are better off if we help that process instead of doing anything that could possibly hurt. I think there are quite a few possibilities to do what you've done in a way that won't suck cash, or as much cash, directly out of the wavering stores' pockets.  
I was gonna put this up on the blog the day that I found out about the last one. Now some time has passed, and while I feel less upset than I was in the spring, I still feel just as strongly about this now, just with the rough edges sanded off. It seems better to at least send y'all a direct email before a public appeal. 
Yes, saki stands to gain from this, but I would feel absolutely the same if we were still distro only, label only, or if I was sitting at home as a fan and music biz watcher. It just makes sense. It just feels right. 
Again, this is said out of love for our shared music business niche, the stores that support both of our businesses, and the music we love. I am still in awe of your label in general, and of what y'all were able to pull off. I hope that you'll continue to do fun and profitable stuff like that. I just hope that Numero will pick a different day to show itself off. 
Very best,
Patrick
And so I waited patiently for a response. Eventually, I just assumed it had been read and trashed. I had moved on.

The reply I got two months later surprised me a bit. Since I don't have Numero Ken's permission to print the email, I will paraphrase. It largely mirrors what he said to Peter Margasak in this week's Chicago Reader, which we'll get to in a bit.

Ken states that RSD has moved from its original intent of celebrating record shops to a shopping frenzy only about the limited edition swag that it made for this day. Curiously, he also pointed out that it was full of people who are rarely found in record stores.

Well, damn man, that's the freaking point, innit? Get people off of their couches and into the shops to monetarily support them. In fact, for most stores that we talk to, RSD has turned into their busiest shopping day of the year. From that aspect, I would say that it has not failed. I would say that it is a tremendous success!

Ken also said that the people who came to their shop were only the regular record store customers who would not be going to a record store on that day anyway. While I have no doubt that some people would avoid stores on that date, the evidence points to the opposite. It is still a celebration and it is very much anticipated by most consumers who we speak with. I can understand a hardcore, Tuesday afternoon crate digger (or "butt crack" as Jim Nash used to lovingly call them) not bothering to show up. My understanding from people who were at the Numero pop-up is that it was packed with people of all sizes, stripes, nationalities, and home planets.

I sat on this for a while, and then ended up typing a long screed, so long that when it was finished and edited that I could not believe that anyone would actually read it. I pruned it some more and then boiled the main ideas down to a list of bullet points that I thought was a more effective communiqué.
Ken,
No worries on the response time. We all have a lot going on. 
  • If you believe that record stores do not further either the continued existence of Numero, do not act to support a more vibrant music scene, nor add anything to the greater societal good, then I guess there's not much that I can say that would matter.
  • I do think that record stores serve these purposes and should be supported.
  • If you do believe that record stores serve a positive purpose, then we move on to the value of Record Store Day.
  • The long term purpose of Record Store Day is consciousness raising: to support music retail by getting distracted people to think about the value of music retail, (re)incorporate it into their shopping routine, and to give stores a chance to show the ways that they can add value to the lives of their  customers. 
  • In the short term, RSD acts as a much needed cash infusion into these same retail establishments.
  • To me, these are valid goals, and, whatever else happens on RSD, to some extent these goals are met.
  • If you believe that music retail is important for some reason, but you think that this import is not being served by RSD, acting in a way that moves RSD further away from that intent and not closer only hinders the cause.
  • Microeconomics are zero sum. A person who spends twenty dollars at Establishment A does not have that same twenty dollars to spend at Establishment B.
  • In a recession, this effect is amplified.
  • If you think I wrote that letter because of business saki may or may not have gotten because of the Numero store, then you don't know me very well. If you'd worked out a deal to do a popup inside of Reckless, Dusty Groove, Permanent, Planet of Sound, Jazz Record Mart, Lily's, or Gramaphone, or all of the above, sure we would have been jealous, but I would not have been upset.
  • Like I said, if all of the local indie labels did pop ups on RSD, would you still agree that record stores were not harmed? That simply could not be the case. We would only be talking about a matter of degrees.
  • As I stated, I am happy that you did well. I continue to be a big supporter of Numero. I talk abut your awesome label to anyone who will listen, including most recently to a liquor store manager and a marketing expert a few weeks ago in the Virgin Islands. I am unabashedly pro-Numero.
  • As a complete aside to my main point, however shocking it may seem to you, we did have RSD customers who came to visit us before and after Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, and Reckless Broadway. A few even took the bus.
  • Like I said initially, this is all said out of love for music, for the institution of retail music, and also for Numero. There's no hate here and no snark. I have made a conscious effort to avoid falling prey to the delights of snark. I am sorry that you chose differently.
    Take care and best regards,
    Patrick
    A few days later, Numero Rob wrote back with sentiments that also echoed what Ken said to Margasak. They boil down to this (again, paraphrasing):
    • Consumers do not really have a limited budget for music, and if they did, the CHIRP Record Fair one week earlier would be more of an issue than Numero.
    • RSD was once cool but has been ruined by major labels putting out stuff that people want to buy in record stores.
    • Indie labels get the shaft because major labels put out so much stuff on RSD that nobody can pay attention to indie label releases.
    • Most of Numero's catalog is not carried in shops.
    • The RSD establishment doesn't really care about indie shops.
    • Numero does care about indie shops.
    • Record stores are businesses, so even if a RSD pop-up store were competing with stores, which it isn't, it wouldn't matter because indie shops are businesses who should sink or swim on their own merits.
    At this point, I was damned busy, and it was obvious to me that they were going to do another one come Hell or high water. Nobody's mind was going to be changed. I also thought I was a long voice in the wilderness, and that if Chicago music retailers didn't care, then I was not going to keep banging my head against the wall for no reason. I guess I also felt like we'd all said what needed to be said.

    Let's look at Numero's points one by one and see where they make sense and where they don't.
    • Limited budget: Dead wrong. Economics 101 here. Guns or butter, not guns and butter. A dollar spent in Numero's pop-up is a dollar that will not, and cannot, be spent in an indie store.
    • CHIRP fair: Yes, it probably does siphon some dollars from the following week. We all wish it was at least a week earlier, but this is at least partially offset.
      • Some percentage of consumers will receive a new paycheck in the interim
      • CHIRP are avid supporters of Chicago indie retail. They pitch our in-stores. They set up booths. They talk about us all the time.
      • CHIRP are setting up booths this weekend at stores across the city and will be promoting the shops while also trying to raise awareness of their own music-supporting mission.
    • Major labels ruined RSD: From a store's standpoint, they need to offer things that consumers see as having enough value that they want to part with their hard-won money. 
      • If consumers see the major label releases as having value, they will purchase them. 
      • If they do not, they won't. From a store's standpoint, they just need to sell something. If people are spending money on t-shirts, buttons, or deep catalog, then all of that helps the shops survive another year.
      • Approximately half of the RSD releases are coming from indie labels, including Numero.
      • The point of RSD is to get people into the shops, get them to spend money, and hopefully offer them an experience that will raise consciousness and turn them into repeat customers who see added value in shopping at a store over on-line, digitally, or pirating.
    • Indie labels get the shaft: I really don't get this one. Indies release RSD titles, too. 
      • For shops, RSD is not just about selling limited RSD titles. It pulls in consumers who find all of the recent releases sitting beside the deeper catalog pieces. 
      • As a distributor, we can affirm that store buyers purchase stock to fill out their catalog for RSD just as they do during the December holidays. 
      • Some people will undoubtedly make surgical strikes to purchase a single limited edition item, but the cold facts are that there simply are not enough copies of limited RSD releases to make RSD the single biggest sales day of the year. What else might consumers be buying  then? The same things they always buy: new releases, recent releases, hot catalog, and deep catalog in that order.
    • Most of Numero's catalog not carried: As an indie label owner, I can say that this is undoubtedly true. Unless it's on consignment, most stores cannot afford to carry extensive deep catalog from most labels. There are simply too many releases. Instead, they have to pick and choose, and deep catalog pieces are often rotated from month to month. Sure, I wish everyone had a copy of The Coctails Popcorn Box in stock, but most don't. But I do know that a consumer has a better chance of finding something like that in stock during the holiday season, and in the week before and after RSD, than at any other time of the year. Same holds for Numero's releases.
    • RSD don't care: I'm not even sure why this is relevant. While I am thankful that the RSD concept gives a lifeline to record stores, I don't really care whether the RSD admin people like me or not. Stores don't participate in RSD as a favor to RSD administrators. They participate in it to help them stay in business.
    • Numero cares: I know that one some level that they do, of course they do, but in this instance, their actions are having a concrete impact on the bottom line of Chicago records stores. If they choose to share their gross income for the day, then perhaps we can figure out a conservative percentage of that income that would likely have ended up in the till at a Chicago indie shop.
    • Shops are businesses, not charities: On its face, this is true. What this statement is not is nuanced.
    Much like ye olde public house, record stores at their best provide a valuable asset to their surrounding, music-loving community. They provide a gathering place for like-minded people. They provide a place for consumers to have a face to face discussion about music with a knowledgable person who performs the same tasks for them as a talented reference librarian. Record stores were the initial iTunes Genius function. ("Oh, you like Bowie? You'll love Jobriath!" OK. Bad example.) Most modern record shops have also diversified. They now carry a broader array of physical goods to purchase, often supporting local craftspeople. They schedule copious amounts of free activities to lure people in. At saki, those include: performances, signings, readings, art openings, Girls Rock events, panel discussions, movies, discussion groups, one act plays, parties, wine tastings, and soon maybe even a book club. Most surviving shops, along with recent upstarts, are taking their role as a community center more seriously than ever and work hard to remain relevant. 

    That said, it may be that even with all of this value and nimble adaptation that they need a hand up every once in a while. I know that even for the now legendary and successful Lounge Ax, the Lincoln Avenue Street Fair would put enough cash in their coffers to ride out a slower summer and made up for some gigs that didn't do what everyone had hoped, but which, nonetheless, added a large dose of culture–thinking specifically of Sun Ra Arkestra and Kinky Friedman here. It's tough times out there and the RSD idea has caught on. It's strategically placed to give them a boost going into the slower summer months, especially in college towns, after the rush has worn off from the holidays and spring release season.

    Not long ago, Numero announced their RSD pop-up store intentions. They are being joined this year by Metro, the long-standing mid-sized live music venue. I sincerely hope this isn't what I feared: everybody and their cat opening up a shop and making a further dent in the market on a huge day for the little guy retailers.

    I was happy to see Peter Margasak tackle the problem in today's Reader. Here's Numero Ken again:
    We continue to stand by our feeling that Record Store Day has become more about buying limited edition 'collectibles' and potentially flipping them on eBay than actually supporting your local record store," he told me via e-mail. "And since we're not offering anything limited except our own items (plus the limited opportunity to browse the bins of 15 vinyl historians, some of them world-class), we think the charge that we're taking away dollars from mom and pop stores is unfounded.
      What was this True Meaning of Record Store Day that we have supposedly strayed so far away from? What now ignored fundamental truth is it that calls for either a reactionary fall backwards or some sort of Reformation?

      Margasak accurately boils my winding dissertation down to two sentences:
      As idiotic as I think Record Store Day is, I love record stores, and there's no question that the holiday is lucrative for them. Because Numero schedules its shop for this one particular Saturday—and because customers don't have an unlimited amount of money to spend—it's hard to argue that Numero isn't diverting potential RSD profits from stores open all year.
      I will boil it down even further:

      Primum non nocere. ("First do no harm.")


      If you are taking actions that are not helping record stores on RSD, you are hurting them. If you cannot help, then it is best to not act.

      I do not argue that pop ups like these are driving wooden stakes into the hearts of any local shops. Everyone who was open last year still is, so they all survived. Like most things in life, the issue is more nuanced. Like Peter, I do think that there is some harm being done. I also think that it's more a misdemeanor than a felony. And it's a distracting annoyance.

      If going to Wrigleyville after a Cubs game, reading the latest Murakami novel, or eating vegetables bum you out, then you should probably not do those things and take a bike ride instead. Being so annoyed by game day Wrigleyville that you open a one day stadium at Roscoe and Sheffield and host a microbrew-sponsored game of barnstorming stunt baseballers instead seems a rather strange way to prove your point about how heinous crowded baseball stadiums full of drunks can be.

      Yes, it is a silly analogy, but I'm tired.

      Lastly, I am curious why no local retailers but the mighty Jazz Record Mart–it really is the best jazz and blues shop in the world!–would talk on the record to The Reader? We have had our disagreement, but as far as I know, no team of Numero Ninjas has been sent after me nor have flaming bags of dog poop been left on our doorstep. We have largely kept our dialog civil. Good people can disagree over things and still be good, and even still be friends. Heck, I have friends who are Yankee fans and others who like Dave Matthews Band. (I suspect if somebody crossed both lines I would have to reevaluate.) I assume that everybody was gun-shy over the increasingly devo level of discourse all around us. The only way to get out of it is to have conversations, even passionate ones, in a normal tone of voice and without name calling or personal insults. Analyze the problem that they are seeking to solve and offer possible alternative solutions. Do that enough, and before you know it, it becomes habit.

      I hope that RSD Santa brings you what you wished for after standing in line at the RSD mall earlier this month. Mostly I hope that you'll visit your local record store a few times a month and find a way to give them some cash, not just on RSD. For that matter, if there is a brick and mortar retailer near you that you value enough that you would miss them when they are gone, then for heaven's sakes support them now. Not later. Now. Do not wait to find out that they are crippled and then go stand in line to view the body and wake their passing.

      I will wrap this up and get back to work fixing our mailorder site that has been crippled by the doofus admins at Dreamhost who held us over a barrel for the last ten days by mis- and malfeasance.

      *Note: I start with the assumption that music and education are of value. If you can't go with me there, then why did you read this far?

      *I have tried my hardest to capture the essence of the Numero arguments as stated in emails to us and in their talk with The Reader. If anyone from Numero thinks I have misrepresented their argument, I would be happy to address that, or if they want me to post their initial email responses in full to give more nuance, I would be happy to do that as well.


      23 comments:

      1. Great to get this point of view. I wish the Reader would have covered this issue a little more extensively (although I wish that about pretty much every subject they cover).

        Also, I know that this is totally not the point of this post, but if saki starts a book club, I am so in.

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      2. I have not read the Reader article in full, but perhaps only having comments from JRM is lazy journalism. Their store is doors away from the Reader offices.

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      3. I take Peter at his word that he tried. He just didn't call us, at least that I've been able to learn. With the advent of phone and Internet, physical proximity is much less of an issue. Plus, I got to say Número Ninjas! :-)

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      4. Perhaps Peter got quotes, but they didn't match the tenor of his story? It's highly likely that most stores don't have the same reductionist perspective that you have. We are a small independent label, a much smaller operation than your operation (which includes distribution, mailorder, a label, a small performance space, and a store). We are just a record label, we don't have other income streams. Try to imagine for a moment if you only had a record label and what it would be like to live off that income. Your perspective, in essence is that we're competing with stores. Our perspective, in essence, is that we're competing with major labels. You don't agree, but you would very likely see things different if you ONLY had a record label. I just have to imagine there are better personal crusades for you to take on.

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        1. I don't have to imagine it either, Robb. This all started from CTR. I couldn't get paid, so I started a cartel of other small labels so that we always had new releases. It ran out of my desk in our apartment. And I've been up front from my very first letter to you on the subject that I get it. I do.

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      5. Rob,
        I don't sit around worrying about it. and I am quite busy with other stuff. We want Numero to be here, but think there are other ways you can do it than this specific one on this specific day. Other stores agree, I guess, so I wrote about it.

        We have yet to make a dime off of a performance at saki.

        There is plenty of other stuff going on that I do spend time worrying about. Yep. Back to it. Have a good day tomorrow, even though.

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        1. Like I said above, I trust Peter that he did what he said he did. I assume he's telling the truth until proven otherwise. His piece is pretty even handed. He has no obvious ax to grind, and he doesn't inflate the importance of it at all. I don't get a motivation for making stuff up. Different perspectives would have made for a better story, even if they don't agree with me or JRM.

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      6. When I sent you the email that you quoted from (but I certainly think you conveyed the weight of, but that is, like all things, debatable) you replied simply "We disagree." That's fundamentally what this is, a disagreement between a few people in the same industry who don't really actually compete very much (when you get right down to it) and usually get along great (and still will, I'm sure). But, publicly shaming us (which, sorry, that is what this blog entry is) means that you really feel this is a truly moral battle. It's not. It's a bunch of small business in a changing, shifting, contracting industry trying to figure out the best way to survive. There's no doubt that all these record stores, labels, venues, and distros need each other, but that each of us are ultimately responsible for keeping our own doors open against significant odds. It is the blessing and curse of independence.

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        1. Rob,
          I have no illusions that me saying anything will change your behavior. You guys are perfectly clear on your intent and on your motivations for doing so. I get that. My disagreement is not on the need for small business, and music businesses specifically, to do creative things to keep the doors open. My disagreement is with the specific timing and method.

          I hope that by expressing myself, I can help give voice to what others have been silently thinking. I also hope that it might give somebody else a chance to at least consider a different point of view before doing the same thing next year.

          I presented your side of it because you offer a lot of points. I think I can counter most of them, but that does not mean that they are not valid arguments. I have done my best to keep things unemotional, level, and point by point reasoned. No shouting. No name-calling. No vitriol. If I have failed, then I apologize–-sincerely and publicly.

          I hope that we do continue to get along great, for if not, that would be the biggest loss in this whole teapot-sized tempest by far. I've bent over backwards to express my, and our, love and admiration for what you crazy dudes do over there. I am the one that sent Langford your information so you could be on his XRT radio show four years ago. Julia is the one who told Michael Abramson, while walking dogs in Horner Park, that "some crazy reverend guy" was legit, and that he should at least explore working with you on a project that ended up being nominated for a Grammy. And if I'm in the shop and somebody doesn't know what to buy, a Numero release would be a likely starting point for suggestions.

          I don't think Peter was trying to shame you, and my emails to you were intended NOT to do so, but the issue was raised. It appears that others feel similarly, and so I wrote up my post. From the feedback we have gotten, that appears to be the case.

          I am sure that the pub will put some extra $$ in the Numero coffers tomorrow, and I won't even send you a bill for my services. I look forward to spinning the fruits of your labors a few months from now. ;-)

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      7. I'm pretty confident there's at least one independent record shop in Chicago that would have loved to set up a Numero pop-up in house.

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      8. Lunch thoughts...Numero are spot on about this: it IS a problem for shops to stock deep catalog. I would bet that for RSD, many would take in full, or at least very deep, label catalog on consignment. Their only cost is the time to process and shelf space. We would do that. This would solve at least one of the problems and consignment is the only way we are able to stock deep catalog as a distributor on a razor thin margin.

        That would allow a shop to set up a featured label section for catalog labels like Numero, or Light in the Attic, or Soul Jazz. Nobody's ever asked, but I'd bet that stores would be receptive. If I'd thought of it in this specific context sooner, we would have.

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      9. Carrot Top distribution took away a lot of business EVERY DAY from small shops when they opened their OWN shop, Saki. Numero might do a pop up once a year, but Carrot Top stole business from all their clients when they opened Saki. Just sayin'...

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        1. If Numero opened a real store, I would shop there!

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        2. Being a distributor is one of the most thankless tasks in the music business. You're seen as a middleman, which usually means you're not seen at all. But you're still in the fray, and still hoping to break new artists, and in plenty of cases are the people really breaking new music to the masses (with nothing to show for it when the artists/labels move to the next plateau, except maybe some old stock). But the worst part is when you're a distributor with a really cool new record and the stores just won't take the jump with you (maybe for a perfectly good reason, but often enough not). There are plenty of reasons why CTD needs a storefront, and the fact that they're importing and distributing some esoteric stuff is a big one (and I hear there's also some stock of Coctails records laying around). It's not really close to any other shop, so the business stolen would have to be neighborhood cats who now don't want to travel a few Blue line stops anymore. It still might annoy other stores in some way, but no store would probably guarantee to pick up every last CTD-distributed title either.

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        3. Thanks, Rob!

          For further comment on this from me, see below.

          Gotta pack so I can head to NYC for some Megan Reilly release week fun. I'll leave this thread in y'all's capable hands or to its demise in the dusty archives.

          If anybody wants to read a REAL kerfuffle, check back to the very earliest posts here and the Great Best Buy Co-op Chaos.

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        4. "Be careful what you wish for." ~ Gary Held, Revolver 1996

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      10. I don't see any problem with what Numero did, whatsoever. Time would be better spent on getting more people in to Sakistore, rather than complaining about something one can't control or influence.

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      11. I'm kind of surprised with all the vitriol and it makes me think a lot of people have never been to either pop up. I literally cannot imagine anyone only hitting up the Numero pop up - yes, you can purchase a bunch of Numero releases, but the bigger thrust behind the pop up seems to be guys with awesome personal collections of old records selling their own records. I've been both years and have purchased awesome old LPs and then proceeded to Reckless, Saki and Permanent to pick up the exclusive RSD releases I wanted. I also think Numero offers something special and unique in that there are dudes DJing great music but you don't have to worry about trying to shop screaming over bands performing in often less than ideal settings. I hope the pop up comes back next year.

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      12. i guess i don't see what all the fuss is about. when super d opened up their importcds.com site and started undercutting list price on all their titles, a lot of shops freaked out (rightfully? maybe? probably? i dunno). chicago record stores could make the same argument about saki and logan hardware but i'm guessing they don't.

        i don't make this comment as any kind of attack on saki or logan hardware and i've always had good relations with you and the guys at chicago independent. i just bring it up because we could sling mud all day and it would be missing the point. you can look at the numero pop up as a giant "fuck you" to record store day, and in turn, to record stores. i think you'd be wrong, but you could. that said, you could also look at it as friendly competition, or even, as symbiotic.

        i say the more record stores in a city, the better; for both the consumer and the store owner. it helps inspire a local culture of record enthusiasm. it helps push each store to hustle, find their niche, and exploit it. i think your economics 101 argument is short-sighted. i accidentally scheduled a record swap this past saturday and by the time i realized it was RSD we were too far along to reschedule. but, you know what? i don't think a single dollar was spent there that would have been spent on a RSD item. it's a totally different consumer. but you know what else? that record swap put $300 into my pocket, and a whole bunch more int some 20+ other dudes pockets, and we shop at record stores every day of the year that isn't RSD, thanksgiving, or christmas.

        in my opinion considering the numero pop up as outright competition is to not see the forest for the trees. the more we can all promote vinyl enthusiasm, be it online, at a swap or pop up, or in a brick and mortar, the better for all of us. yes, one literal dollar spent at numero's pop up was a dollar not spent at saki, but, figuratively, that one dollar could have been spent by a 18 yo kid who was so turned on by records that day they became a consumer for life. in my humble opinion, we all want to promote a culture of music enthusiasm; the more people doing that on RSD or any other day of the year, the better.

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        1. obviously, i can't prove any of these, perhaps delusional, theories. but you also can't prove that numero group cut into anybody's bottom line on saturday.

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        2. Ian,
          I don't think it's delusional at all. The actual harm from Numero's pop up is likely very small. If enough people do it, at some point, it does cut in significantly. Basic economics says it has to. For example, if TG, DC, TJ, Hot Dougs, The Alley, etc., etc. all opened their own pop ups that day, it would become significant. I don't know how much or where that line is where it starts to really cut in, but I do know that stores mostly run on a shoestring and bailing wire, and the ones that ran out of wire or string are gone. So my issue is much less with Numero than with pop-ups and slippery slopes. But really there's nothing we can do about it except point out what is the possible harm and hope others can see that and empathize. I also think there are other ways of skinning the cat for mutual gain. Really, that's it. There are reasons to do it. I think there are more reasons not to. There are other possible solutions to the reasons to do it, and they might even end up more profitable.

          If I could do it over again, I would just have edited it down to a list of reasons not to open a pop-up store on RSD and then forgotten about it. I do not think that this applies to opening a new business. If somebody opened a new store and found a cool niche or way or doing it that worked and served a community that found it useful, we would all be pretty psyched about that. Why is that different? I guess that it's because it's a committed new business that's there day in and day out providing whatever service to their niche that they have found and providing jobs to their employees day in and day out.

          As I have said ad nauseum, I do NOT think it is THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD. Everyone survived it. The end.

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        3. Ultimately, Adam R is right. It's much more important that we, and by we I mean everybody with a music related business, do what we need to to stay vibrant and relevant to our customers new and old. It is also a business and a marketplace. People win and people lose. I will sound really old here, but I came into it at a time when we would send people from Wax Trax! over to Reckless, Gramaphone, JRM, or Importes, Etc. if we didn't have something. Heck I'd even call ahead to make sure that they had a record in stock for one of our customers, and they'd frequently do the same for us. This is where punk rock sort of overlaps with hippy ideals. While we are all competing, the idea (and ideal) is that it can be done in a way that allows all of us to succeed without pushing somebody else down. This weekend has me thinking of ways that we can do this better (we can always do this better), and I have a few ideas..We'll see.

          I've never heard anyone accuse saki of undercutting anyone on price. If so, that's news to me. saki's customers have told us fairly consistently that we're too expensive on stuff. Once we bought our building, the fear was expressed to us by local shops that we would lowball, and we assured them that this was not our intention at all. The fear was also expressed that CTD would slide limited stuff to our store and not our shops. This also has not happened. CTD's sales people love their accounts to the point of protectiveness and take good care of them. If people get shorted, then it means that we got shorted, not that we've diverted stuff to saki or eBay or anywhere else. We are still primarily a distributor, and it is in our interest for our shops to be healthy and happy and making their customers happy. Doing that kind of stuff for short term gain would be a really bad business decision along with a betrayal of our relationships with those shops. I don't think we'd have customers for very long. If any are unhappy with their service on those levels, or any level, then they should definitely express that directly to Brook or me so that we can address it. Our stores are pretty vocal with us, especially when we screw up :-), so while it's possible, I would be surprised.

          Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts! Appreciated.

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      13. Quit whining and work on your own business. People love Numero and they love Saki and don't be the person who starts ridiculous quarrels through the city.

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      Be nice!