So it’s not buried yet and the corpse may yet be revived, but I’m not sorry about HMV. I never really shopped there if I could ever help it.
Maybe it’s just me, and maybe it’s something to do with the massive chip on my shoulder (which is visible from space), but I don’t feel welcome in most retail stores. I don’t like that underlying feeling that a thing is not for the likes of me. I’m actually quite amused when it’s out in the open. I was standing in a French retailer a couple of years ago contemplating a pair of trousers in a sale. I always have trouble working out my size in France. When I was a 36″ waist, it turned out to be 46 in France, which is not a straight inches-to-centimetres conversion.
Anyway, I was standing there and the attractive female shop assistant walked up to me, looked at the trousers, looked at me – looked at my belly, to be precise – and just shook her head. I quite liked that. We knew where we stood.
Most high street retailers, I don’t feel welcome. It’s not as bad if they treat all their customers badly, but it’s still bad.
As a teenager, I hated all record shops, even though I loved buying records and bought loads of them. Not for me that first-name relationship with the guy or girl behind the counter. Not for me those easy conversations about what was cool. In Dunstable, I bought my LPs in F L Moore, and I liked the look of the girl in there but she acted like her shit didn’t smell, if you know what I mean.
When I worked in Luton, I used to regularly hit all the record shops of a lunchtime. Our Price (horrible); HMV (horrible); some independent (horrible); W H Smiths (!); Woolies (waste of time); and Boots. You know what? I preferred to get my discs in Boots, because at least in there you didn’t feel like the staff were judging you. I was buying Beatles, Dylan, Springsteen, records in a world dominated by punk and new wave, so of course the hip young things in the proper record shops used to look down their noses at me.
I’m sure I wasn’t alone in hating record stores, which is why so many of us fell ravenously upon the Amazon in the 90s. Here was a place that had everything you wanted and didn’t sneer at you when you went to pay. So Amazon are now the Big Bad, and I hate their tax-dodging ways, but I won’t miss HMV.
Nor Jessops. Not surprisingly, Jessops offered the same snooty buying experience, only with cameras instead of LPs. Of course nobody wanted to shop there.