I saw this today and it took me back…
..it’s from a post about signs written by record shop staff on the PassiveAggressiveNotes website
It’s a little known fact about Friends of the Stars that before we became internationally insolvent Country/Folk musicians, both Cam and I used to work in record shops. Whilst I can’t speak for Cam, I can say that I never used to write signs directed at customers like the ones in the featured link. In fact, my sole contribution to the general ambiance of MVE Berwick Street in London’s fashionable Soho district was instead a ‘nice’ thing that benefited customer and store alike. It was the Bored Girlfriend Chair.
I came up with it in 1994 or 1995. I used to see couples coming in all the time and it always went the same way. The boy would start flipping through the racks of records and for a while his girlfriend would stand at his side, feigning interest in that original German pressing of Can‘s Tago Mago.
After around 5 minutes of this the girl would generally abandon the boyfriend to his digging and lazily browse the rest of the shop, displaying body language that left you in no doubt that she wasn’t the slightest bit interested in any of the products on offer, even the ‘high end’ products in the glass cabinets…. The Prisoner video boxsets, a Smiths 12″ or two, an orginal Mono copy of Please, Please Me by The Beatles and so on and so BORING.
Normally at this point the girl would hassle the boy about it being time to leave. The boy, having only just reached M-R in the meticulously alphabetised Chicago House section, and just getting warmed up, would usually lie and say he’d only be “..5 more minutes”.
She’d give him maybe 3 and a half of those minutes, 4 at the absolute outside, and then they’d have a row, right there in the middle of the shop. This probably wasn’t good for their relationship in the long run and it probably wasn’t good for business in the shop but, frankly, for £27 a day I didn’t really give a shit about how well or badly the shop did.
What it definitely wasn’t good for was me sitting on my backside, reading the paper and listening to tunes in peace, which was the main reason I turned up each day instead of getting a proper job.
So…I put a chair by the window which offered girlfriends both fresh air and a view of the significantly more interesting market outside. It proved an instant hit and, at weekends especially, was occupied from the moment we opened the shop at 10am and until we booted out the last vinyl junkie at 8pm. The rows became more and more infrequent and the shop sold more records (and I still took home £27 a day).
Looking back, I should have patented the idea because it has been ripped off by just about every retail chain you can think of, and there’s even a male equivalent in smart and expensive ladies clothes stores that offers leather sofas, coffee, literature for the small minded and Sky Sports.
So, next time you’re in a shop and someone offers you a cup of coffee and a nice sit down whilst you wait for whatever it is you’re waiting for, just remember that it all started with me putting an old chair in a doorway in Soho.
Next week: How Cam solved The Cuban Missile Crisis.