grody gross nasty disgusting ugly dirty icky sick sex smelly … buy grody mugs, tshirts and magnets. noun: disgusting, dirty or just plain …
Is there a record store anywhere in the world that shows more contempt for its customers than Auckland’s own Real Groovy?
Christmas shopping is a chore at the best of times, so when you get home with some recordings and set to peeling off the stickers before wrapping up the presents, you expect this job to take minutes, and to leave you psychologically unscathed.
But if you buy at Real Groovy, you will discover that they have their pricing stickers printed with super-grade stick-on glue backing. What this means is that when you try to peel off the price sticker, it just won’t come off. If you’ve got strong nails, you can scratch away at it until a horrid sticky residue is left, and then get to it with some form of mile house-hold cleaner.
That’s if it’s in a conventional JB (jewel box). If your purchase happened to be in an LP replica (ie, a cardboard cover) you’re absolutely stuffed. Because what happens is one of two things, and possibly both: you tear the sticker off, and some of the artwork comes off with it. Or, you get the sticker off, but it leaves that famous sticky residue. So you set to with a mild house-hold cleaner, only to find that it smears and ruins the artwork, too. There are no winners in this scenario, and despite having spent many thousands of hard-earned at Real Groovy over the years, I have never found a solution to this problem.
It’s a problem that reeks of contempt for the customer, as I mentioned above. But there’s more: it also reeks of a complete and utter disregard for the artist, and the artwork the artist is conveying via the cover. Who would release a recording if they knew it was going to end up being mauled before it was even listened to?
Local artist Dudley Benson – who I interviewed recently for Metro – had a good point when he decided to only sell his new album through his website. It’s got a gorgeous cardboard cover, and it would have been neglected, devalued, and ultimately destroyed in a venue such as Real Groovy.
When Real Groovy was last in dire financial straights, I wrote a blog pointing out a number of poor aspects of this otherwise great and hallowed institution (hey, only a fan could bother to write a critique like this, right?), but after they got bailed out and continued along the rocky path of street retailing of music, nothing has changed. It’s not that I expected them to do everything I suggested. It’s possible that none of the management at Groovy read my blog, or the numerous other comments that customers (and former customers) made in the blogosphere at the time. But Real Groovy is once again looking derelict. It has downsized its DVD section dramatically, and that section no longer features a new releases section. There is now no longer a proper magazine section, either. The rest of the emporium is a mess of sale product and poorly displayed categories.
Last time I wrote about Real Groovy, I pointed out basic problems like its tendency to put stock in the wrong genre (new age albums in the metal section, anyone?), the callous disregard of basic service principals by the vast majority of staff, the tendency to play whole albums of the most awful hip hop at horrendous volume on their crappy sound system. Etc.
But now, as then, the thing that really bugged me was the stickering. Every other store in the world has stickers you can peel off, if you really set your mind to it, without damaging the product. Real Groovy doesn’t.
And as for the mountainous racks of sale items. Don’t get me started. Not only do staff routinely place these CDs with their spines upside-down (or a frustrating mixture of right-way up and upside-down), but these huge bins are not filed in any way – not by genre, not alphabetically, not even by exact price. Now, one of my secret joys is spending an hour or two flicking through mountains of cut-price CDs or vinyl. It’s an alternative to something really boring, like meditation. (As long as no long-lost friends don’t see me at the racks and ruin my composure by chatting away). But there is an insane investment of one’s time in sorting through recordings that are completely randomly bunged on the racks. That investment of time should be respected by Real Groovy. Sure, if you’re lucky, and smart, spend an hour and you might find two bargains. They may even be albums you’ve been looking for for years, and would have paid full price for. But there’s a catch. Not only do these sale items come with the aforementioned ugly, cover-damaging stickers, but the staff have gone through the whole damn lot with a felt tip pen, with which they scrawl a line across the inner jacket of the item. Not only does this damage the artwork, but it often obscures text. In short, it’s an abomination, and the only explanation I can think of for this practice is that Real Groovy are paranoiac that a customer may be smarter than them, and sell an item back to them fore more than they sold it without them realising; hence the defacement.
Note to Real Groovy: It may be too late. You’ve botched your chance to enter the 21st century with all guns blazing. I admire the fact that you love vinyl, but that’s not enough. You need to cultivate a level of service; have the right stock, and care for it, and your loyal customers. Me? I’ll probably still make the occasional visit, but I’ll now be looking for my releases online, where I can be assured (even if they are bargain price) that the cover and artwork will be pristine. GARY STEEL