If Someone Had to be the Last Customer…

I managed to keep my emotions in check until the last hour or two.\n\nWhen Ray called from Flagstaff, mind viagra it was about 6:30. He said he wanted to make sure we know that he’s been all over the state shopping at record stores throughout his life… and that we were by far the best he’d ever visited. If you know how deep into music Ray is – then you know that’s some high praise from a confirmed record store geek.\n\nTo our delight and honor, generic cialis purchase we’ve been getting a lot of high praise and feedback in the past five weeks since we announced our \”hibernation\”, and as I’ve said in our videos and emails, it’s means the world to us. But we’ve had tons of work to do, and I’ve been able to thank people and move on without letting the emotion well up.\n\nMaybe it’s because we only had a few hours of business left, and there wasn’t much else we could do to sell product or help customers (since we successfully sold off an enormous amount of our stuff and couldn’t do special orders), but as I started to say \”that means a lot to us\”… I had to stop and take one of those \”slow the emotion\” breaths.\n\nThen came Emma.\n\n\n\nEmma is one of our very best customer-friends (that’s her up there with Andy). She is the youngest of three sisters, all of whom have a passion for music, all of whom have shopped at Hoodlums since our ASU days.\n\nShe applied for a job as a hoodlum back in 2007, and made it to the finalists before we chose Andy (also pictured), the last hired hoodlum standing. The ASU talent pool was deep, and we were always lucky enough to get a ton of qualified applicants, so we told Emma that although she was ultra-qualified (plus she did great on the test), we just didn’t need that many people. We promised we would keep her \”in mind\”, but unfortunately, the danger of interviewing good customers and not hiring them often means they stop shopping at the store, so we figured we may not see her again.\n\nNot Emma. She just kept shopping.\n\nWhen we re-opened (after the M.U. fire) in 2008, there was Emma (along with her sisters, Mimi and Alison) at the grand opening. I asked her if she’s still like to be considered if we eventually hired again, and she responded with an enthusiastic \”yes\”. She showed up for nearly all of our in-stores, our art shows, even the movie screenings (the picture is from our 13th birthday party). Every time I’d ask her if she was still available, hoping we’d grow slowly but surely, and she’d still say \”yes\”.\n\nBut we never hired. While we found a way to pay our bills and make it through the lease, the economy and the industry stayed stagnant, and we just didn’t grow. We found ways to streamline and improve our efficiency, to get creative and cover each other’s vacations and appointments, and we simply didn’t need anyone.\n\nBut Emma kept shopping.\n\nEarlier in my final shift, I had looked up to see Mimi, Emma’s sister (that’s her over there), come through the door. Mimi has been an equally awesome Hoodlums’ supporter, and she had that same \”sorry to hear about your closing\” look that most of our regulars were wearing. We hugged each other, and I told her to stay tuned (like I told so many of you). When I was ringing her up, I asked about Emma. She said she thought she’d be in later.\n\nA hour or so later, in walked Alison (I’m sure there’s an Alison picture somewhere, but I can’t find it), and the scene repeated itself. Same look, same well-wishes, same \”thanks for your amazing support\”.\n\nBut still no Emma.\n\nThen, with less than an hour to go, shortly after Ray had called, in walked Emma.\n\nDon’t get me wrong, it’s not like I didn’t think she’d make it. As I said, she’s a great kid, and she’s been one of our most reliable supporters, so I was prepared to see her. Plus, as I said, I had talked to many customer-friends of equal emotional status to me without losing my composure, so I didn’t think it would be over-emotional.\n\nBut for whatever reason, seeing Emma was about all the ol’ Record Store Geek could take.\n\nI made it through the hug, but I had to head to the backroom so I didn’t lose my composure in front of the customers. Upon discovering my old pal and pseudo-employee, Sari, back there, I had to suck it up big time to keep from out-and-out crying (well, I probably didn’t have to, but my North Dakota upbringing manifests itself in a few macho hang-ups).\n\nIt turns out that even though my outlook is positive, even though both Kristian and I feel like the store did not fail, after putting every bit of my heart and soul into building up \”my baby\”, it was impossible not to be a little bit sad about shutting her down.\n\nEventually, I made it back out to the floor. I was OK from that point on.\n\nSomewhere after 8PM, I put on Paul Pena’s \”New Train\”, the first album played when we opened (see the post Thank God It’s Finally Opening Day) and the final album I wanted to play as we closed (see the Last Song Facebook post from last week) and locked the door. Emma was still in the store.\n\nSo I rang up Emma. Our final customer of the store.\n\nIt could have been anybody that happened to be last.  It could have been any number of classic customers that set me off.  The last day (and the entire run) was filled with so many loyal customers. So many friends. So many tremendous conversations, memories, and relationships. I could write stories about so many of you (and you never know, I just might).\n\nBut someone had to be the final customer.\n\nI’m glad it was Emma.

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