Posts Tagged ‘Steve Wiley’

Down to One Hoodlum

Friday, October 12th, 2012

“Have you ever thought about opening a record store?”\n\n“Uh, ambulance site not really.”\n\nThe question was posed by the Assistant Director of Arizona State University’s Student Union, recipe and although I had been managing record stores for over ten years, cure my answer was truthful.\n\n“Well,” he said, “The store that is in here now is leaving suddenly, and we’re going to need to find a new tenant.  We’d like it to be another record store.”\n\nWhile my initial response had been truthful, my situation had changed drastically over the past week: A week prior, my wife and I didn’t have any kids, and I had a good job.  A week later, I sat in my living room holding our newborn son… without a job at all.  I was what you might call desperate.\n\nSo the rest of my response went like this: “… but I’m going to start thinking about it now.”\n\nCan’t Do It By Myself\n\nI hung up the phone and tried to control my already-racing mind.  I had spent a weekend of sheer joy (new kid) and total anxiety (having my position “eliminated”) all at once, and it had been pretty tough to figure out why I was suddenly in such a situation (the no-job part, not the kid part, I knew how I did that).  Perhaps this was the way the universe was taking me.\n\nI have always believed in myself, but I wasn’t exactly sure about opening my own business.  However, if necessity is the mother of invention, she was nagging me to move forward.\n\nBut wow, what a huge task.\n\nThe ASU area was loaded with record stores.  Napster was exploding.  The corporate appliance stores were giving away hit CDs and DVDs for under cost.  More specifically, the current ASU record store had not been doing well (I knew, because it was one of eight stores under my general management just one week earlier).\n\nOne thing I knew for sure: I couldn’t do it alone.\n\nWe’re Gonna Need Another Hoodlum \n\nSo I started thinking about potential partners.  Wow, what a huge thing to think about suddenly.  What a monster relationship.  Who did I know that possessed the talent, drive, and trustworthiness necessary to even have a chance at helping pull off such a task?\n\nLuckily, I had just the guy in mind: Lloyd Hummel, my very good friend and the chief buyer and promotions wonderboy at my now-former employer (that’s Lloyd and I in L.A. meeting B.B. King).\n\n\n\nLloyd and I had worked together for the past six years, at two different employers.  He didn’t just have the characteristics needed, he had them to spare: Intelligent, creative, likeable, innovative, you name it… Lloyd had it.\n\nThe question was would he be interested.  We’d had many conversations about the direction of our current company, and I hoped that he would be.\n\nWhen I approached him about it, to my relief he was instantly ready to go.  We talked about how to approach it in terms of selection and service, and what we felt would be a general business strategy necessary to succeed in such a seasonal environment.  We both had worked closely with the store over the past few years, but we were restrained within the corporate structure of our employer, and we felt like we had some great ideas to make the store fun and profitable.\n\nThen we talked about what it would take in terms of money.\n\nWe didn’t have enough.\n\nBetter Make That Two Hoodlums\n\nWe needed another partner.\n\nAmazingly, we both knew one other guy that was intelligent, hard working, ethical, musically-knowledgeable… and cool to boot: Kristian Luce.\n\nKristian was also working with Lloyd and I at the time (and at our prior employer as well).  He was our friend and we both believed in him.\n\nHowever, we once again faced the question of whether or not he’d be interested.  It was a lot bigger mystery than it had been with Lloyd.\n\n\n\nYou see, Kristian was a laid-back kind of a dude. He did things his own way, and although he was a dependable, efficient worker in every sense of the word, he was a young man who preferred to spend his time following his muses… like the Grateful Dead.\n\nAs his manager in our previous store, I had offered to promote him into management on numerous occasions.  Even though the job meant more money, he had turned me down each time.\n\nIn short, he did things that made him happy, and he was more than happy with his below-the-radar responsibility level.  Lloyd and I were pretty sure he’d pass.\n\nBut we had to ask.  We needed one more partner.\n\nA Key Moment in Hood History\n\n\n\nI remember standing in my garage and proposing the idea to Kristian… essentially waiting to see which direction my own life might be moving.\n\nHe didn’t just like the idea.  He loved it!\n\nIt turns out that Kristian was the only one of us that had ever previously thought about opening a store.  Who knew?\n\nSo we formed a company and submitted our proposal to ASU.  It was accepted on August 17th.  On August 24th, 1998, we opened Hoodlums New and Used Music (that’s the original picture from the New Times article about it).\n\nLucky For Me, We Needed Three Hoodlums\n\nThe store started strong, and it was obvious very early on that although we already had roughly 25 years of collective experience, we had a lot to learn.\n\nIt was also obvious that it was a damn good thing Lloyd and I had needed one more partner.  Kristian, the once “reluctant-about-work-pressure” Deadhead, was a machine.\n\nIt turns out in addition to all the music-biz qualities we had already known about, the kid was super sharp with numbers and financial planning.  We soon scrapped the idea of sharing bookkeeping duties, and our puka-wearing pseudo-accountant, and turned the money matters over to him.\n\nFrom Three Hoods Down to Two\n\nWhile the store continued to grow, it was obvious that it might not be a big enough footprint to support three partners.\n\nHowever, that was OK because our partner Lloyd had grown restless.  He had spent most of his life in the Valley, and he and his lovely wife were ready for a change.  Universal music was ready to give him the opportunity to let his inner label guy out, and he was ready to move on.\n\nWe negotiated a buy-out, wished our old pal the best of luck as he headed off to L.A.… and the next thing you know Hoodlums was just Steve and Kristian.  That was the year 2000.\n\n\n\nTwelve Wild Years\n\nOver the next twelve years, Kristian and I were part of a co-dependent relationship second only to the relationship I have with my wife.  We put every bit of our heart and soul into making Hoodlums a great record store.\n\nWe expanded.  We joined the Coalition of Independent Music Stores.  We broke sales records and we hosted tons of different musicians and artists.  We became part of the ASU community.  We saw flooding.  We were part of a fire.  We closed.\n\n\n\nHoodlums New and Used Music & DVDs became Hoodlums Music and Movies.  We reinvented.  We reopened.  We joined a new community.  We won some awards, made some more money, and made some new friends.  We closed again.\n\nDuring that time, although we always had to maintain a safe distance with respect to the business partnership, we became better friends.  We helped each other through some bad personal times, and celebrated through some great ones.\n\nDown to One Hood\n\nNow, after fourteen years in business together, Kristian has decided to move on.  He’s ready for a change, and it’s the right time to do it.\n\n\n\nHoodlums Music and Movies will give way to something else.  Our little record store will be no more.  Whatever direction the company takes, whatever reinvented entity emerges, I know one thing for sure: I’ll never be able to make up for all of the amazing things my partner brought to the table.\n\nHe worked like a truck.  He came up with some of our greatest ideas.  He drove us, and planned for us, and kept us in line in so many ways.  He allowed me to be my Record Store Geek self (which can occasionally be controversial) in spite of whether or not it was the way he would have done it.  Together, we used the different parts of our different personalities to run a successful business.\n\nI can never thank him enough for helping me live such a great life over the past fourteen years, selling something I believe in with all my heart.\n\n\n\nBack to Just Being Friends\n\nThe record store we built together may have closed its doors, but we’ve got a ton to be proud of, and our friendship will live on.  That’s a beautiful thing.\n\nStay tuned.\n\n 

New Career Choice: Not Construction

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Here’s a piece of advice: Never start a remodeling project while you are moving your record store into storage.\n\nYeah, check look you haven’t heard from me in about three weeks since the store closed. It’s not because I’m sitting around watching Cartoon Network.\n\n\n\nI’ve been framing, best viagra tadalafil roofing, doing concrete… and a whole cornucopia of vicious physical work in the eight zillion degree Valley heat.\n\nThis is the kind of work I haven’t taken on since back in my teenage days with the Ward County Highway Department (you want to talk about characters… that place was a reality show in itself).  Not exactly the kind of work I’m used to doing: Peddling music to you guys.\n\nI didn’t realize it, but those long days on the rural North Dakota roads must have been the motivation for being a retail geek in the first place (admittedly, I had Record Store Geek tendencies, but Budget Tapes and Records never had any openings).  Even then, while the work was hard, it was done in the relatively decent Nodak summers, where all we had to worry about was pterodactyl-sized mosquitos, not Africa-heat.\n\n(Hood Hat Tip: Before I go any further I gotta take my hat off to those of you that kick ass in this stuff every day.  Seriously boys and girls… you cats are tough as hell.  Insane, but tough.)\n\nEr, Not A Mover Either\n\nI may have just had an epiphany about construction, but I did realize that movers were insane long ago.\n\n\n\nWhy? Because I’m insane with empathy. I’ve lived in the Valley 25 years, and I’ve managed to move (or help family) in the summer about 16 times. I literally can’t seem to do it in the fall or winter.  I know the pain.\n\nThis time was no different.  A full week’s worth of dirt and sweat.\n\n(Hoodnote: While packing trucks and fixtures is relentless, the break down and clean up of all the little stuff might be worse).\n\nSo why move and remodel in the same two weeks?\n\nMy neighbor, Mark – that’s him  on the roof with my sons (they must not have read the signs about being on the site without a hard hat) – was ready to help me, and he had to do it start during the last week of August.\n\n(Hoodnote: Mark was a Hoodlums’ customer before we became friends and neighbors. Both he and his wife were official Music Junkies at the ASU store) \n\nAnyway, in addition to being cool enough to help a neighbor, Mark is really awesome at construction, and I’m totally green. Plus, he’s a lot cheaper than a general contractor.\n\nSo basically, I had no choice.\n\n\n\nLuckily, the double duty only last about ten days… and my new boss didn’t work me more than ten hours a day on the site after that.\n\nIt’s Lookin’ Good Though\n\nThe cool thing about that kind of hard, manual work is that you can really stand back and see the results of what you’ve done. Check it out. What used to be outdoor is now totally waterproof and enclosed.  That’s my daughter getting in the action (she must not have seen the \”wear shoes on the site\” sign).\n\n\n\nCool, huh?  As a hobby maybe, just not enough to beat up my middle-aged body on a daily basis.\n\nSo while I’m not entirely ready to reveal which direction Hoodlums will go (soon, my friend, soon), I know this much:\n\nWe aren’t going to be a construction company.\n\nHope all is well with you. Stay tuned…\n\n(Note: We do have to finish the job when Mark gets back in town, so wish me luck.)\n\n 

Reflections on 13 years of Record Store Ownership

Monday, November 28th, 2011

malady viagra and you are invited to our party.\” src\=\”×300.gif\” alt\=\”\” width\=\”226\” height\=\”300\” />Hoodlums is having our 13th Birthday Party on Saturday, remedy so New Times‘ Jason Woodbury asked me to provide some impressions on thirteen years of Record Store ownership for his Up On The Sun blog.\n\nWow, thumb that’s a big task.  But if you’ve followed Hoodlum’s social media sites, or my little Random Babblings of a Record Store Geek blog, you’ve probably read blogs or seen video explaining \”why I own a record store\”… and you know I’m constantly analyzing my whacky little world… so I’ll give it a shot.\n\nRandom observations and opinions from a Record Store Geek:\n\nIt takes more than one hoodlum to run an indie business in a corporatocracy.  Luckily, my partner Kristian has been here for thirteen years to share the load.  Because I write, tweet, post, and do the marketing, I tend to be the more-visible of the hoods, but anyone who really knows the store knows that Kristian is a music-lovin’ force-of-nature. I could do a whole article on his talents and hard work alone.  I can never thank him enough.   (Big thanks also to Joe, Andy, and the many other hoodlums who make up our Hood Hall of Fame.)\n\nThe rise of digital music has had a far-less negative affect on the music industry than the idiotic decision-making of the record labels. High-prices, customer lawsuits, substandard artist development, corporate-retail subsidies, and a continual overdose of hype have killed off a ton of indie record stores and an entire generation of potential customers.  If the major labels would have embraced digital music, and found a way to monetize it, rather than waiting for Apple to change the rules of the game, the music business would be infinitely more healthy.\n\nI personally think digital-only music is a rip-off.  Although Kristian and I have never been on a crusade to stop illegal downloading, I don’t do it.  So if I want to own a piece of music, I pay for it by buying the CD or the LP/mp3 combo.  I’m a collector.  If I like an album, I want to have it in my collection, and to me \”owning\” a file is like owning air. The music in my iTunes, iPhone, and iPod is an important part of my collection, but that part is about convenience.  I still get the files with a CD, so to me it’s a win-win.  When Hoodlums was on hiatus after the M.U. Fire, I went to the other indie stores to shop, because I need a record store.  Kristian did too.  That’s why we reopened… because we’re not the only ones that feel like this.\n\nNot giving in to the fear of a digital future has allowed us to feed our families for thirteen years.  Thanks, thanks, thanks to each and every person that has spent a cent in our store for making that possible. I still recall our Sony rep warning us about Napster before we started.  Little did he know that Napster was just the tip of the digital iceberg… and yet we are still here.\n\nI wish I could have another conversation with Brad Singer.  Brad was my old boss at Zia; the guy who started it.  As GM, I would go into his office daily and report on the stores, and then he and I would discuss/debate/argue about our ideas for the company.  A lot of our debate centered around my opinion that some of the things he felt most strongly about applied to owning/running one store, but not eight.  His unfortunate passing led to the formation of Hoodlums, and since then, as the co-owner of one store, I have come to understand his feelings a lot better.  I wish I could tell him that, as well how thankful I am for saving me from corporate hell (and a thousand other things).\n\nDownloading has weened the \”lightweight\” music fans out of record stores.  You know, people that just want singles, the ones who \”like the song but don’t know who sings it\”… that sort of music fan.  Don’t get me wrong, we don’t have anything against music lightweights (every good party needs lightweights), in fact we understand.  The labels have falsely inflated album sales for years by not giving them the option to just buy the song, so the new digital world is perfect for them.  If they get turned on and want the album (or they don’t want to download for whatever reason), we’re here to help them, but the majority of the people we serve these days are serious music fans.  Junkies like us.\n\nMost of my fellow record store geeks feel that at this point the economy is tougher to deal with than the industry and technology.  We feel that way too.  Ask almost any other type of shopkeeper, and they’ll tell you how much of a battle it is these days.  The only good side of the sad economy is that the guys in the Ivory Towers (Label bean counters, errr, Presidents) have finally started dropping prices.\n\nI still love music more than any non-human thing on this Earth.  It is my passion. It is a part of my soul and my spirituality. I feel that spreading music to my fellow Earthlings is a very important job, because without it this would be a pretty sad place to live.  I couldn’t sell you cars, or homes, or clothes… because although those things are important, I’m not passionate about them.  But I can sell you music, because I believe in music.  I spread it around when I was younger, so Hoodlums is just a \”business continuation\” of what I was already doing.\n\nI’ll stop there, although I could give you impressions all day (buy me a drink after the birthday party and I’ll answer whatever questions you’ve got).  Thanks again to everyone for your support.\n\nRandom Hood Facts: \n\nSteve/Favorite In-store: Michael Franti and Spearhead (although I was radically hung over from the Bowie show the night before… I loved the album, my 6-year old son was in the front row, and Michael was a free-spirited champ.)\n\nKristian/Favorite in-store: Ben Kweller (playing piano in the store with Jason Schwartzmann of Phantom Planet, making up songs and goofing around)\n\nAndy’s Favorite in-store: Greg Graffin of Bad Religion (hanging with Professor Graffin was super-cool, especially for the store’s biggest BR fan).\n\nMost people in an autograph line at an in-store: Weezer (650 preorders was all we could do in their allotted time)\n\nBiggest single-day sales on a record: Format – Dog Problems (500 copies, all we had, during a street-date in-store performance).\n\nBiggest single sales day: Record Store Day 2011.\n\n \n\n \n\n 

Why I Own a Record Store: Are You a Hippy?

Friday, September 24th, 2010

As Kristian and I celebrate our 12th Anniversary with Hoodlums (it’s a loose celebration, store cialis we’re gonna milk it), and continue to navigate a ever-changing waters of record store ownership, I’ve been doing a little reflecting on just why exactly I do this.  The first one was Goosebumps.\n\nIt was Tuesday morning, and I answered the phone, and the nice lady on the phone explained that she has some LPs she would like to bring down.  I began to explain the procedures for used LP buying and selling, and she said \”No, you don’t understand, I want to give them to you\”.  \”That’s great, I said… we appreciate it\”.\n\nShe went on to explain that she was coming all the way down from Scottsdale because she had read the article in the Arizona Republic that morning.  Now usually I read the newspaper every morning (that’s right, I listen to CDs and read books and newspapers… cause I’m old school, and I can only mainline so much digital info), but I hadn’t gotten a chance to do so that morning, thanks to some sort of kid-related morning excursion. Because I had sent out a press release about our free J.J. Grey show, which was the next day, I assumed she saw something about that.\n\n\”I didn’t see the Republic this morning, was it something about our show tomorrow?\”\n\n\”No, it’s an article about Social Networking.  It’s on the front page of the Arizona Living section\”.\n\nCool.  There had a been a story about Valley record stores using social media to reach customers on AzCentral about two weeks earlier, but we had no idea it was going to run Valley-wide.   Anyway, she went on:\n\n\”There’s even a picture.  Is it you?\”\n\n\”I don’t think so… they didn’t take any pictures during the interview… but they could have some sort of shot on hand\”.\n\n\”Are you a hippy?\”\n\n\”Uh, yeah… sorta\”\n\n\”Do you have a beard?\”\n\n\”Hmmm.  Not officially, but I don’t like to shave very much.\”\n\nAt this point, I just figured it was Kristian (that’s his cartoon, although the boy has shaved off the beard recently) because, well, we are both kind of hippies. It wouldn’t be the first time.  Kristian once had a customer tell him that he was referred to Hoodlums with the reference that both of the owners look \”a little like Jesus\” (who’s pretty much the most famous bearded hippy of all time).\n\nA little later in the day, our friend Brandon from Changing Hands brought a copy of the paper in, so I was able to check out the picture.\n\nIt wasn’t Kristian or me.  It was Dario from Stinkweeds, our central Phoenix indie colleagues, the other store featured in the article. I guess most (I say \”most\”, because we must remember Joe) of the remaining record store guys fit the profile (although Joe has a different record store guy profile).\n\nLet’s face it: I am a bearded hippy.   I have been ever since I was old enough to grow a beard and do the things that hippies do.  Which is just another reason I own a record store. There’s just not many jobs where I can be my bearded hippy self.  Kristian either.\n\nBoth of us hippies thank you for your support.