I’ve mentioned a couple times on the blog that I worked in a couple record stores in 1989-1991. One of the ones I mentioned was “The FlipSide” in Wauconda, IL. As far as I can tell, that organization is completely defunct so I might as well publicly divulge one of its dirty secrets.
During these netheryears of cassette-to-compact-disc transition, FlipSide offered a deal that if you brought in an old cassette, you’d get $2 off a new CD. Pretty good deal. So one day a guy comes in with an old tape by the band “U.F.O.” It was so old, in fact, that it had the thicker, solid plastic slide out cover with a label on it, rather than the clear plastic cassette case with a paper insert you usually see. The case kind of looks like something out of the 8-track era. Fine. I gave him his $2 off his new Stryper CD or whatever the hell he bought and away he went.
Next day, the district supervisor jerkoff named Adam comes in to check on things. He basically did this once a week to come by, give us a hard time, then tell us we need to play more shitty music he likes. One example is this god-awful band called Horse, pictured nearby. Adam would come in and play this shite album, making us all want to hang ourselves, and as soon as he would leave, we’d put back on our Skinny Puppy, Real Life, Jack Frost, The Church, John Zorn or whatever the hell else we wanted.
Anyway, Adam starts going through the box of tapes that people have traded in. He picks up this aforementioned UFO tape, holds it up and asks everyone who works there who had accepted the tape for trade-in. I said that I was the one who had allowed it. He then berated me because the tape was not one listed in “the catalog”.
Aside: the catalog is the bible of albums that you can buy from the record labels – i.e. the ones still in print. Someone could go over to it, look through it, give us some numbers and we could order it for them.
I quickly asked Adam, “Why does it have to be in the catalog? Don’t we give these tapes to charity?” That was what Adam had told us to say if people asked us where the tapes went, and there was no requirement I had heard of for charitable donations to be in print. Adam kind of shut up right then and dropped the subject.
Well, I mentioned the incident to my store manager and it turns out that FlipSide was sending the tapes back to the record companies as defective. So let’s add this up.
- List price of CD: $14
- Discount to purchaser turning in tape: $2
- Returned cassette merchandise discount for FlipSide: $5 (?)
Basically FlipSide would make $3 of additional profit when you turned in a cassette to get your $2 discount, because they would send that tape back to the record company as a “defective”. That’s why the tapes “had to be in the catalog.” I wish I had thought of that scam, but I was just an unwitting pawn.
I thought of this story today because I was listening to Pink Floyd’s “A Momentary Lapse of Reason.” I honestly think that is Pink Floyd’s best album. Yes, that’s right, the first one AFTER Roger Waters left the band. Consider this though… what are the best 3 songs on “The Wall”? “Young Lust”, “Comfortably Numb”, “Run Like Hell”… maybe? All co-written by David Gilmour. AMLOR is a slow, sometimes depressing album, but is just astounding. If you haven’t listened to it lately, I recommend checking it out again. I can listen to that album now, but find it hard to listen to anything else by Pink Floyd… with the exception of “The Wall”.