4-3-12 The Hippie Record Store – Part 3
Guitarist / Singer / Songwriter Richard Thompson born 1949 – Mark M. likes him a lot more than I do, but I did dig “Henry The Human Fly”.
I worked for the hippie record store for quite a while, at more than one location! I stayed with my manager, when he got assigned to a different store. The second store I worked at was rather far from my home. It was like it was in another galaxy.
I somehow got noticed by the “District Manager”, and I got offered a job at the distributor: “Superior Music” in Glendale, CA. My first job there was being the assistant to the “Import Buyer”, a guy who did not care about imports at all. I pulled orders, put away shipments, pulled special orders or wrote them on a sheet for the buyer, and I learned to operate the shrinkwrap machine and heat tunnel! The imported records that our distributor sold were not shrinkwrapped, and California customers liked their goods to be shrinkwrapped. So, I got to shrinkwrap British LP’s & 45’s!
I also made friends with the dispatcher, the guy who sent truck drivers out with their vinyl payload. If a driver ever called in sick / stoned, I got the chance to deliver a shipment of records – as far away as San Diego, CA!
By this time, I was 21 years old – I was an old ‘pro’ – I had been working in the music business for about 3 years already. At the distributor, payday Friday lunches sometimes involved alcohol; lots of folks got very drunk at lunch (“Rusty’s Hacienda”, anyone?).
I got to move up in the world: from the warehouse main floor to the “Buying Office” – I got the job of “Import Buyer” and got to talk to all of the importers / distributors – both in person, and on the phone. I placed orders, and was solicited on new titles – which I would write up and send to the stores, to try and stimulate interest in this product.
Eventually, one of the importers offered me a job – I guess because they could tell that I knew what I was doing. Off into the world I went! Before leaving the distributor, I did get a chance to begin working on a computer, writing the ‘order book’. The computer was someplace in Burbank, and I was in Glendale. You had to dial a number, then put the handset onto a cradle, and then the screen would light up.
A friend of mine knew how to import records from Japan, so I eventually went to work for Tony Harrington – the company was called USS&M ( = “United States Sales & Marketing” ), and eventually I was allowed to have my own company within the company, “ANZ Imports”, a small mail-order record seller – I wrote their catalogue of predominantly Australian and New Zealand artists’ music.
It was great to work with importing records from Japan – initially, we mostly imported Blue Note LP re-issues; we got a fax machine (a heck of a lot smaller than a telex machine!) – and salesmen would solicit orders from accounts.