HMV was horrible, wasn’t it?

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.

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1 thought on “HMV was horrible, wasn’t it?”

  1. I’ve always loved Fred’s, a local shop. Been a more-or-less regular for around 35 years and don’t feel awkward there. The problem with all of those great big stores is that you are expected to like the stuff they want you to buy. For those of us who like to think for oursekves that’s not possible.

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