Thursday, June 18, 2009

Selling Used CDs in Portland.

While I'm mentally preparing myself for my next push of album encapsulations (I will be back, I promise), I figured I'd drop back by to whine a little bit. It goes like this:

I don't sell CDs often. I have to really not like something to get rid of it. I am not one of those people who rips something to their iTunes and then feels stupid for keeping the physical copy of the disc. I revel in the shelf space taken up by my CD collection, as I just love to see them sitting there. However, I am constantly going through the process of replacing my CDs with vinyl versions, so every once in a while I will gather up the CDs of which I have recently purchased LP copies, and haul them down to the record shop.

While Everyday Music has always paid notoriously low prices for used CDs, they've become much worse in the last six months. Now, I should mention that my dissatisfaction with EM has been growing steadily for a few years now. The only reason I go there anymore is to dig through the $.50 bin, and I'm even losing patience with that because I've come home more than once to find a wrong record in the sleeve after I buy a stack of those. I know it's a half-buck and I know I should look, but still. I'll list the reasons why Everyday Music is terrible at the end of this, but for now, we'll stick to the point at hand.

I took a stack of around 12 CDs in there the other day. Left 'em up at the desk and walked around. After striking out four times looking for recently released records, I went back up to inquire about my CDs. Dude told me it all added up to five bucks. Now, these weren't crap CDs. We're talking Eminem, Beck, Beatles, and some out-of-print 90's hip hop. Not stuff that's particularly valuable, but stuff you might have a slightly hard time tracking down. He said they didn't need them or that they were scratched. They weren't scratched. And everyone needs a copy of Revolver. So, fuck that.

I'd rather give them to Goodwill than let the kid with his little pants give me a quarter for CDs that they will turn around and sell for at least six bucks, so I took 'em back. Then I took 'em to the Eastport Wherehouse. Now, say what you will about the Whereheezity, but I can honestly say I leave there satisfied way more often than I ever leave Everyday Music with a similar sense of fulfillment. Yes, they don't have LPs, but strangely enough, if you're looking for a copy of Sonic Youth's Sister used, you'll have an easier time finding it at the Wherehouse than at EM. And it will be cheaper, guaranteed.

Anywho, I took the exact same stack of CDs into the Wherehouse. They gave two of them back to me and still offered me...wait for it...forty-three dollars in trade. (It was thirty-something in cash, but I don't play that game.)

So. Let's put this in terms we can all understand. With my trade-in at Everyday Music, I could not afford the "skuf" copy of Stripes on DVD I wanted to buy. With my trade-in at Wherehouse, I walked out with three brand-new wrestling DVDs (I'll pause for laughter), two of which were three-disc sets. And, the guy behind the counter made eye contact with me, which was an added bonus.

Here are the other reasons why Everyday Music is terrible:

Their "recent arrivals" section for LPs has contained the same records the past three times I've been there. And it was way more than a week between visits. Hard to believe nobody's snatched up that yellowed copy of The White Album for 80 bucks yet!

I realize it's Portland and I realize that shit gets picked through and I realize it's all subjective, but they never have anything good at the Portland locations. It's like a bunch of Dan Fogelberg records next to Zappa LPs that have been "graded" by somebody who has no idea what he's doing. The day that I pay you $75 for a beat-to-shit copy of Mothermania is the day I let you offer me three bucks for my NM copy of Uncle Meat (yeah, it's got the booklet, you buzzards). The Beaverton one is way better, but not consistently enough to make it worth my while.

And while I know it's easy to rip on the perennially hungover oilbags who work there, I'm gonna do it anyway. They can act like EM is some cool little hole-in-the-wall, but it ain't. It's a chain. (I know because I've been to the one in Bellingham!) They have a New Age section. And there are Bob Marley posters on the wall. And now they sell Musicland-quality t-shirts.

I heard one of the girls who works at the Sandy location talking to a customer a few months ago when I was there. After dragging herself away from sitting on the counter and yapping with the dudes in the little coats who work there, she had the nerve to tell this incredibly polite middle-age-ish man that she had never heard of Bryan Adams. Even worse, she said, "Do you mean Ryan Adams?" He said no, and she said "I seriously have no idea who you're talking about." And left it at that.

And the dude walked away.

And her pushing-30 indie cred remained intact for one more day while she put Everyday Music one day closer to going out of business.

I don't think I'll miss them when they do.


Biff Pocaroba said...

Amen brother. Everytime I go to Everyday Music, or "The 8.50" as some of my circles call it, I remember why I don't go there very often. Their new prices are too high and they price all of their used CDs the same price (hence, the 8.50). Which means that they charge the same amount for "Revolver" as they do for "Son Of Albert" by Andrew Ridgely. It makes no sense. Anymore I scan the DVD walls and 45s when I visit but rarely find really good stuff. The Wherehizzity's new prices are ridiculous but I always thought their used prices were pretty good, especially on DVDs. And yes, they pay out top dollar for used stuff which means that they usually have a very nice selection of goods. Plus as an employee they force you to be somewhat humane to customers and not openly mock them (unless your name is No Soul Johnny). WH4Life!

Joy said...

Does this mean I don't have to stand around for 45 minutes while I wait for you to look through all the bins at EM, anymore? Does it? Does it reeeaaally?

tussin said...

And a hallelujah from this corner. Oh the $8.50 as we dubbed them so long ago. My favorite is when they price cheap punk CD comps that have the retail price on the front booklet cover in big bold text $1.99! for eight fucking dollars and fifty cents. Are they not paying attention, do they not care, or do they just think their customers are dumb lemmings who don't know any better?

I too very rarely sell CD's. When i did it was pre-itunes and i almost always regretted it later when i wanted to hear that one decent song from the album. However when i worked at the B'Buster Music it was a promo selling frenzy. I had it down to a science. I had a route i'd usually follow that hit the stores that paid the best first and would hit them in order. The punk & rap CD's i didn't want went to 2nd Avenue Records. The Alt/Rock/Country & R&B CD's got sold at Ozone, Django's, or Music Millennium respectively. Place's that paid a fair price. Always more in trade credit than cash, and they had the best selections of indie, imports and vinyl.

Everyday music has never paid shit for good used CD's. It's embarassing what they offer people for a stack of 30-40 CD's. Your experience is exactly how they've done business since day one. It would be one thing if they had a selection anything close to that of Amoeba records, but the only thing they have in common with that superior store is a lot of square footage.

Skinny jeans, questionable haircuts, and very little enthusiasm but a whole lot of attitude. You're hired.

I have found the occasional gem in their bins. Advance promos or out of print CD's/singles. But for the most part it's the same overpriced catalog. They never go through and reduce the prices of stock that they've had for months/years. They still have the early seasons of the Simpson's priced at $30 used. You can get those first 8 seasons for $15 new at Costco or Walmart. I know apples to oranges, but you get my point.

I stopped in after a show a couple months back, because they're the only store open until midnight. I picked up a CD of "The Pains of Being Pure at Heart". I could tell it was the one of the cashiers "bands" because her face lit up like a pinball machine during multi-ball when she saw what i was buying. We talked a minute about the band and had a pleasant exchange and i was on my way. Usually it's all up turned noses and that elitist attitude that you couldn't possibly have any inkling what "good" music is.

Well i worked music retail long enough so i know. How do you enjoy working on weekend evenings? Or better yet holidays? And how's that 9 bucks an hour and no medical treating you? And when i buy the Beastie Boys 'Check Your Head' Deluxe re-issue box set on vinyl i don't have to check with my roommates to see if they can cover my rent until i get paid next week.

Now i'm done.

tussin said...

I almost forgot. I was picking up my parents at the airport on tuesday night so i stopped into the sandy store on the way. That crappy $80 copy of the beatles white album was still in the recent arrivals bin.

Biff Pocaroba said...

Here here Tussin!