Want a Bag?

Bionic Records staff member Katie Glaister was able to give insight into how record stores really work and what the staff really thinks about your rare test pressings.

How do the three stores differ as far as what sells?

The Fullerton store sells more indie rock because a lot of college students are into the indie scene. I think they're more directly affected by musical trends. In Cypress we get an older crowd, and we've had a lot of customers for a long time. We also carry a lot of garage, and we're trying to sell more independent hip-hop. It's hard to get that moving. A lot of people don't know a lot about it, or that they can come to us to find it. Huntington Beach sells more metal. What comes in the store is very much affected by the staff. Mike at Huntington Beach knows a lot about metal—black metal, doom, Swedish death metal, everything.

When buying, is there any sense of duty to music beyond what will sell well?

I think we all express favoritism when out buying. I'll bring something in if I think it's an awesome record and I refuse to work here if it's not brought in. You have to read a lot about artists you haven't heard before. And you have to push it, play it a lot.

How many times a week do you get asked if the store's hiring?

Two or three times a week at least. It's one of the most annoying questions. I think I get it more because I'm a girl and people assume that girls don't know as much about music. I constantly get the question, “What do you have to do to work here?” I want to say “sexual favors,” but I would never say that, but it's almost like that's what they're assuming.

So people assume that you don't know as much about music as male co-workers?

I feel they do. I'm not like a feminist and I don't assume that males think that of me when they see me, but I have felt it before. People will walk right past me when I'm behind the counter and ask the guy who's busy.

Are there any questions you're sick of?

The most annoying question ever is, “Do you have anything behind the counter?” referring to white power music, or that we do carry it but don't know it. Or, “You guys used to carry Skrewdriver.” No, we never have. I've been flipped off. Sometimes you have to engage in some petty debate with them. It's so annoying.

Do you get many record-collector weirdoes?

We get guys in all the time who'll buy the same record over and over, just different pressings. “Oh, I have this in marble gray vinyl, and limited black vinyl, and 180 gram vinyl.” People are obsessive. A lot can be elitists. “Oh, I have the first pressing of that.” A usual customer that I encounter is the older man who wants to tell me about a band I've never heard of that he saw in 1980. It's like, “Yeah, really, no shit? Want a bag?”

Working in a record store is often thought of as a “cool” job. Do you feel that way?

When I first got hired, I felt pretty cool. I was 18. Then you grow up a bit. It is a cool job, but I don't think it defines a person as cool to work here. It's a cool job, but it doesn't make me a cool person.


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