Store Owner interview with Frank of Ars Macabre
It’s interesting to read this article as Frank was the only Germany based shop to answer the questions.
Store Name: Ars Macabre
QRD – Why did you start your store?
Frank – Because I found it to be the right thing to do & there was nothing comparable around here.
QRD – How does your store particularly appeal to your city?
Frank – To those who are interested in what the store offers, very well.
QRD – What’s a mistake you’ve made with your store that you’d warn others against?
Frank – Entering the internet too late. We couldn’t do without it anymore today.
QRD – What do you think indie record labels could do to best help both themselves & indie stores?
Frank – Perhaps we should all together discuss & work on an official download channel. The classic form of CD or record will be obsolete & entirely replaced by MP3 & company very soon.
QRD – How was the representation of indie storeowners & customers in the movie High Fidelity accurate & inaccurate to your experience?
Frank – I haven’t seen the film.
QRD – What type of research do you do to decide what to put on the shelves?
Frank – I read reviews & articles in magazines, obtain information from labels, & have talks with customers.
QRD – Is it ever difficult to find the right distributors to get something you want to stock?
Frank – Never.
QRD – What do you wish labels or bands or distributors did more of to work with you?
Frank – Better promotional work, sending promos to get an idea about the release & bands.
QRD – What do you think is your store’s all time best seller?
Frank – SOMA - The Inner Cinema.
QRD – What do you think most leads to a particular record being a good seller in your store?
Frank – Live performances at all kinds of events. Local bars, for example. That’s what turned SOMA into a best seller.
QRD – How does one get an independent release into your store such that it’s recommended to the clientele instead of just sitting on the shelf?
Frank – I talk to people, ask what they’re interested in & then make my recommendations. Apart from that, all new items are specially presented & spotlighted.
QRD – How do you feel about so many stores closing & how does it affect you if at all?
Frank – As said, the classic CD or record as we know it will become obsolete. Who has been bewildered about vinyl records 10 years ago feels that way about CDs today. Music on hard drives & flash drives is the future. Those who want to sell music in-store 20 years from now, has to submit to that trend. However, we’ll have to see how & if that works after all, considering the competition of the internet.
QRD – What type of competition do you get from the big box stores (Wal-Mart, Best Buy, etc.) & is it difficult to compete price-wise - i.e., do you find that potential customers will shop at the chain because they can afford to charge less for the same discs or do they support you if the disc is a dollar higher in price?
Frank – I buy at the cheapest places myself. If you know what you want, you can do that. But those who want recommendations HAVE to visit stores like Ars Macabre. Most indie listeners feel “elitist” about their taste, they’ll HAVE to visit smaller stores if they don’t want to skip through the tiny indie section at Best Buy right next to the average loser.
QRD – With portable MP3 players & iTunes, is the concept of the album (in any form) dying?
Frank – As answered above in the same context: Yes, absolutely!
QRD – How has the downloading scene impacted your sales - do you find that people buy less CDs now because they can download them for less or do you or do you think illegal downloads are more of a culprit?
Frank – By now most downloads are legal. Those who downloaded illegal aren’t customers lost; they have never been customers, but stingy minds that aren’t able to value & respect the artists’ work. Legal downloads are cheaper, sure; but I think it’s more about overall convenience, like saving space for example. Most downloads offer a clearly audible quality by now, even if miles away from being Hi-Fi & Hi-End. That reduces sales, of course.
QRD – Record & CD buyers tend to be of a certain age (21-34), as the upcoming people who will be of that age group are mostly download-buyers, would you like stores to eventually have “iPod filling stations” hooked up to an indie network that stores can be part of?
Frank – As stated before, something of that kind will be the future. Less in the form of stores, but certainly internet based.
QRD – With the increase in digital downloads, low prices in mega-chains, & so many online specialty stores; what is the job of the local indie shop now compared to in the 1990s?
Frank – To be brutally honest? To be on time, even ahead by going with the future!
QRD – What are the biggest misconceptions people have of record stores in general & yours in particular?
Frank – Generally speaking, that we’re all stinkin’ rich & live large. In my case in particular, that all Ars Macabre sells is “just noise.”
QRD – What is the most frustrating &/or frequent question you get from customers?
Frank – “How long will you survive?”
QRD – How do you decide who to hire as an employee & when you need one?
Frank – I’m a lone wolf!
QRD – If you weren’t in the music business, what would you do?
Frank – I’d try to make a living... ;-)
QRD – How did your schooling & previous work experience prepare (or not prepare) you for your store?
Frank – They didn’t. Swimming you’ll only learn inside the pool, so you better jump in!
QRD – Have you ever refused to sell something purely because you disliked the music, even if it was popular & would sell?
Frank – I don’t think so. I don’t like quite a few things that are in the store. But as long as the market exists for those things, I’ll sell the worst crap... ;-) (In my opinion)
QRD – What is your personal “holy grail”? (i.e. the one rarity you’ve been looking for forever.)
Frank – There is nothing. I already found what I’ve always been looking for: My wife!
QRD – What makes you feel like you had a good day at the store?
Frank – A fulfilling day is over - a great feeling!
QRD – Anything else?
Frank – I’ll be seeing you... Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Official Website - www.arsmacabre.de