Veteran record store slinger Hope Silverman details her wildest stories behind the counter. Musicians, they’re just like us—except they’re absolutely not. They’re pretty unhinged.
“There’s nothing as glamorous to me as a record store.” So said my lifelong god and fantasy object, Sir Paul McCartney, back in 2008, speaking in support of Record Store Day. “Glamorous” is an extremely generous characterization. A more on-point description would’ve been “fucking weird.”
At least that’s what it felt like for me. From 1988 through 2014, I was a record store employee in New York City. During that time I worked in two indie stores and two megastores. My roles took many shapes, from salesclerk right on up to a fancy-pants thing called “Regional Inventory Manager.”
Yes, both High Fidelity (book-film-series) and, to a much lesser extent, Empire Records contain elements of record store reality, especially in regards to the hyperbolic music conversation and “Island of Misfit Toys” quality of those employed (me included). But the reality is infinitely weirder than what’s been depicted on screen. Record store employment destroyed my innocence and trust in the world and gave me the opportunity to touch Paul McCartney. It honed my self-sabotage skills to precision perfection and made me lifelong friends. It was more fucking ridiculous and embarrassing than any movie. Here’s some stuff that happened at the record store.