7 Things I've Learned While Working At A Record Store

7 Things I've Learned While Working At A Record Store

There's always at least one person who asks, "so, does music actually sound better on vinyl?"
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Before I transferred to the U and moved to Minneapolis for the spring semester, I spent my days slinging albums and annoying customers with my obsession of feminist folk punk in a small North Dakota music shop. It has, by far, been the best job I've come across. Over the course of my employment and the time I spent walking down the aisles of CD's and LP's, I've collected some tracks of wisdom.


1. People still listen to Nickelback

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I have a personal vendetta against Chad Kroeger. When my brother was 12, he made the unfortunate life decision of attending a Nickelback concert and in the middle of the set, the Canadian lead singer threw a red solo cup of beer at my little brother's head.

That being said, people still spend money on the universally hated rock band's albums and every time they do so, I'm forced to ring them up at the cash register, stifle my judgement, smile and say "enjoy your new CD!"

2. It's important to gamble with music purchases

If you come across a funny looking album cover of some ridiculous 80's hair metal band, just buy it. Some of my favorite musicians have been discovered through the act of impulsive transactions. Before I'd ever heard of Devendra Banhart (North Dakota isn't really known for it's buzzing, hip music scene), I bought a used CD of "Mala" without knowing anything about it. I just thought the album art and song titles were interesting.

To this day, it's always my go-to road trip album. The same goes for Stryper's "To Hell with the Devil" (for wildly different reasons). Of course there are going to be misses with this consumer practice, but the hits will always be worth it.

3. The old, crazy regulars know their tunes

One of my favorite regulars is an older, leather jacket wearing, grey bearded gentleman. For the purposes of this article, let's just call him Orson. The last time I saw Orson, he was wearing neon orange suspenders decorated with black skulls and had his long wizard beard tucked into his crewneck shirt. He waltzed in and asked me about my first semester and how I liked living in Minneapolis. He then proceeded to school me on Ty Segall's discography. No joke, this dude is old enough to be my grandpa and he corrected me on which album "Rusted Dust" was on. So, don't judge a book by its wrinkles.

4. Every item of clothing I own will permanently smell like India Moon incense

I frequented this music store before I started working there and one of the things I loved about it was the scent of incense when I walked in. It gave the shop a nice and cozy feel and it was a memorable shopping experience for me.

Now that I'm back for the summer, I remember that not everyone appreciates the smell of Nag Champa and Patchouli. Whenever I come home from working a night shift, someone always comments, "Hannah, you straight up smell like a head shop."

5. Too many people make dumb pot jokes while looking at the water pipes and spoons

Like most record stores, the one I work at sells a variety of glass. There are certain terms you're supposed to use when mentioning to me which item you'd like to take a closer look at. Even though we both know you're not going to pack tobacco in a wooden dug-out with the words "420 BLAZE IT" printed on it in bright green vinyl decal, I have to play dumb and you have to lie. I'm not interested in how ripped you're about to get and what kind of hook-ups your friend has because his girlfriend just moved to Colorado to work as a bud trimmer. If you make a weed joke, I've heard it a million times and I'm not even going to give you a courtesy laugh.

6. We get It, The Beatles are important

But, John Lennon was awful and abusive, so...

7. We're not infallible music scholars

Yes, if you work in a record store, you need to be aware of genre cultures and the influential musicians that helped guide the music scene to where it's at today. That being said: I don't listen to everything and I don't know everything. If you mosey into the store and ask, "what's that one album by Slayer that has that one song on it?" I'm going to stare at you with a dumb look on my face until you give me more information. I cannot read your mind.

One of my favorite things about working at this shop is I get to travel through the subgenre waves of Spotify and discover new musicians and albums constantly. However, I experience tiny little existential crises when I realize that I'm never going to have the time or energy to learn everything about the music that's been released and continues to be released without pause. I get over this immobilizing anxiety when I remember musicians like Chad Kroeger exist and I don't need to listen to or know everything.

However, I do know one of the most intimidating aspects of talking to someone who works in a music store is the myth that they know more than you do...they don't and if they act like they do, they're a dick so you have the moral high ground. Ask your questions and don't feel dumb, but also don't assume we've heard of that crappy local ska band that your friend plays bass in.


Cover Image Credit: Samuel Dixon // Unsplash

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Picking Passion Over Pressure Is The Answer To A Fulfillng Life

Don't crack under pressure, flourish with passion.

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What motivates your actions? The answer to this critical question can determine whether or not you are living a fulfilling life. Many of us follow a social script as if we are reading lines from a play. We succumb to the influence of those around us and roam aimlessly in the direction of the masses.

The concept of living within the confinement of certain "norms" is an expectation society calls us to uphold, and it is not an entirely negative idea. But when life becomes "a series of motions to go through", this expectation can become problematic. When you find yourself stressed out about doing whatever it is you think that you have to do, stop and ask yourself if it makes you truly happy. Are you pursuing your passion or are you just performing under pressure? To find true contentment in your life, pick passion over pressure.

Be an individual before an identity.

When people first introduce themselves to a new friend or group of people, they are quick to jump to aspects of their life that compose their identity. Many of us define ourselves by what it is we do, and not necessarily who we actually are. For example, this can include identifying as a member of a club or sports team or even defining yourself based on accolades and accomplishments you have achieved. While these are definitely adequate ways to distinguish yourself from others, have you ever stopped to look beneath the surface? It is important to know what unique qualities make you an individual and not just a part of a larger entity.

By viewing yourself as an individual, you will find your passions in life more easily and find genuine enjoyment in all that you do. Taking on an identity will only hold you under unnecessary pressure to fulfill a role that could leave you feeling unsatisfied later on.

Become self-aware.

To find out what makes you truly happy, you need to establish a clear sense of who you are. Fostering self-awareness is a journey, and it can be discovered through life experiences. In order to figure out what you love doing, push yourself out of your comfort zone to figure out what you don't love doing. This can mean joining a new club, taking a challenging class, or working in an environment that you are unfamiliar with. Once you begin to discover how you react in certain situations, use these personality traits to your advantage.

Don't make the same mistake twice, and avoid taking on a position that you know would not be compatible with your lifestyle. By becoming self-aware, you will discover your passion more easily and will be able to take on realistic opportunities that will prove to be fulfilling. When you try to become someone you are not, it will seem like there is always a lingering pressure to "keep up the act", and it will be harder to accomplish tasks because you don't truly enjoy doing them.

View outside opinions with a filtered lens.

Don't let others dictate your future. When you make life decisions based on what other people think is best for you, you will be pleasing everyone except yourself. Consciously decide whose opinions are valid, meaningful, and constructive to your life. This can include the wisdom of close friends and relatives, professors, or a boss that has known you for years. By finding out who knows you best and who truly desires the best for your life, you can tune out the background noise and hone in on the few voices that actually do matter.

Place value in what these people have to say, and take the words of others with a grain of salt. Avoid letting irrelevant or negative opinions linger in your mind. If you allow the influence of others to infiltrate your decision making, you will find yourself in many regrettable situations and unsatisfied with the outcome of your choices. By subscribing to the helpful advice shared by those closest to you, you can foster your true passion.

Practice positive thinking. 

You can't find out what makes you happy in life without actually experiencing what happiness is. To discover your passion, adopt a positive mindset. Get out of the habit of mentally putting yourself down, and take the word "can't" out of your thought process. The more mental blocks you put on yourself, the less likely you are to have good experiences. Release your inhibitions and train your brain seek positivity in any situation.

Don't allow minor inconveniences to disturb you, and remind yourself of the saying that "it is only a bad day, not a bad life." In doing so, the positive choices you make will lead you in the direction of your passion so that you can live a fulfilling life.

Be open to new ideas. 

Keeping an open mind will allow you to experience life from a new perspective. Even when something seems foreboding, treat it as a lesson. If you cannot think of a positive quality for the situation you find yourself in, then don't assign your circumstances any qualities at all. If you keep a neutral mindset, you will eliminate the possibility for disappointment. This will encourage learning and growth, which are essential in your journey to finding your true passion.

Being open to new ideas will help you avoid sticking to the status quo. By taking part in something you have never done before, you are less likely to find yourself confined by what others expect you to do.

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