Monday, November 14, 2005

HMV Superstore: will they make it to 2007?

I seem to recall saying awhile ago that given the nature of the space, it would be bloody difficult for HMV to do a substantially worse job than Virgin; the need to keep the shelves full and an awareness of the diversity of Vancouver's market would surely guide their corporate hand towards bringing in enough interesting stuff to keep people like me happy. I guess I owe Virgin an apology -- I was wrong. HMV have managed to fill THREE FLOORS OF SHELF SPACE with basically the same stock you'd find in their Coquitlam Centre outlet, and pretty much nothing besides. They have six billion copies of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, shelves and shelves of mediocre "sale-price" generica, they've relegated their jazz section to a backroom and their Criterions to a tiny corner space (and they didn't even bring in Nic Roeg's Bad Timing, the release of which is a major fuckin' event); and in the process of uber-corporatizing the space have alienated a goodly chunk of the hip, intelligent, creative Virgin staff, who have split for other locales. They've then replaced said employees with a staff who seem to be about 60% buffoon (I like the big dark haired chick with the piercings and tats, tho'). Granted, they've only occupied the space for a month, and they're doing a few things right: they brought in some Fred Frith discs in time for Frith's concert, are stocking the new New Model Army CD along with the EMI reissues, and to my surprise, actually brought in some Japanese imports last week of Clash CDs in cool mini-LP-style format, which I'm partial to. All the same, I had to teach the kid I asked about "other Japanese imports" how to spell Japanese -- he tried to spell it "Japaness," as he did a completely useless keyword search in their computer system (which turned up a few Half-Japanese albums, but that wasn't exactly what I was looking for). Maybe he was tired from the commute from the suburbs, who knows... I'd like to see HMV survive, but right now they're looking pretty useless -- mismanaged, badly stocked, and staffed by... well, there are some competent people there too, I'm sure. They're probably paying attention to other job openings out there, tho'... I would.

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