Store Owner interview with Michael Wood of The Lazy i
Store Name: The Lazy i
QRD – Why did you start your store?
Michael – Childhood dream. Wanted to do a coffee shop/show space/record store. Didn’t get to do the coffee shop part. I had coffee up front for a while, but then it just became a big mess.
QRD – How does your store particularly appeal to your city?
Michael – To say I stuck out would be a severe understatement.
QRD – What’s a mistake you’ve made with your store that you’d warn others against?
Michael – My start up money was less than a grand. I went through that in about a week. I had to sleep at my store & at other people’s houses to make it work for the first year. Always try to have at least 10 grand start up (at the VERY least), NEVER give away merchandise (not even to your lovers).…
QRD – What do you think indie record labels could do to best help both themselves & indie stores?
Michael – The ones that did the best at my store kept a really strong relationship with me & sent a lot of promo stuff to give out... & tried to keep things interesting... like neat packaging, cool promo posters, etc.
QRD – How was the representation of indie storeowners & customers in the movie High Fidelity accurate & inaccurate to your experience?
Michael – As far as my store goes... completely accurate. Down to having the 2 guys that I couldn’t fire, because I never hired. Only my record store was very small. Much smaller than his.
QRD – What type of research did you do to decide what to put on the shelves?
Michael – I started out with a huge order from about 3 indie distributors of all the basic back stock indie stuff: Fugazi, Jawbreaker, Descendents, etc. & I had a list that people would fill out when they came in of things they would like to see in the store.
QRD – Was it ever difficult to find the right distributors to get something you want to stock?
Michael – Surprisingly, indie stuff was easier to get in the store than the major label stuff. The “one stops” were usually really expensive & hard to deal with.
QRD – What do you wish labels or bands or distributors did more of to work with you?
Michael – Free stuff is always nice.
QRD – What do you think was your store’s all time best seller?
Michael – Hmm... maybe the night we had a band do a complete Weezer set at midnight on the night of one of the new Weezer CDs.
QRD – What do you think most leads to a particular record being a good seller in your store?
Michael – Whatever is hip at the moment usually.
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?
Michael – Bands & record labels: don’t even bother with record stores until you have the word out about your release. It’s a waste of time. First send out a shitload of copies to indie magazines, & put some ads in. Unless you are from the hometown of the record store you are wanting to put your release in, it won’t sell without some push behind it.
QRD – How do you feel about so many stores closing & how does it affect you if at all?
Michael – I closed a few years ago, & the internet did have something to do with loss of sales. But location for me also did. Also a Best Buy opened up a block away & they sold all the indie stuff that at the time you could only come to me to get. & they would sell at below my wholesale cost. A couple of times I actually bought a couple CDs from Target to resell because their retail was lower than any indie store could get.
QRD – What type of competition did 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?
Michael – See above.
QRD – With portable MP3 players & iTunes, is the concept of the album (in any form) dying?
Michael – Yes. & that is sad.
QRD – How did 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?
Michael – Yes much less. Near the end you don’t know how many times I heard, “Oh, I don’t buy CDs anymore, I just download it all.”
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?
Michael – We didn’t have iPods back in the Lazy i days.
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?
Michael – Specialty. Gearing toward collectables, etc.
QRD – What are the biggest misconceptions people have of record stores in general & yours in particular?
Michael – That you make money. Ha.
QRD – What is the most frustrating &/or frequent question you get from customers?
Michael – “Can I use the bathroom?”
QRD – How did you decide who to hire as an employee & when you need one?
Michael – n/a
QRD – If you weren’t in the music business, what would you do?
Michael – Work for a health food store.
QRD – How did your schooling & previous work experience prepare (or not prepare) you for your store?
Michael – I worked in record stores before owning one… & that helped a lot… getting the names of some distributors, etc. & I was in college for business, & learned a little, but the more I learned, everything just suggested jumping into it, so I did.
QRD – Have you ever refused to sell something purely because you disliked the music, even if it was popular & would sell?
Michael – Not that I can remember. But I definitely would make fun of my customers for their purchases often.
QRD – What is your personal “holy grail”? (i.e. the one rarity you’ve been looking for forever.)
Michael – Can’t think of one at the moment but I was probably happiest when I got a bunch of Devo & Gang of Four bootleg VHS at the store. That’s another thing not so popular anymore now that you can see anything you want on YouTube.
QRD – What makes you feel like you had a good day at the store?
Michael – Having people come in throughout
the day. Having an awesome band come through & having a great
time with all the kids.