Real Grody

December 14, 2010
4 mins read

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

Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here


  1. Interesting and timely article Mr Steel, I was only discussing RG with a mate about an hour ago. We both wondered how they are faring given the emergence of JB HiFi further down Queen St, and also how Marbecks are holding up against the same competition. Once upon a time both RG and Marbecks were the ‘go to’ retailers for the more obscure titles, but JB has most of these also. And yes I hate those super sticky labels, removable self adhesive isn’t much dearer and leaves no gloopy residue so why don’t they use it? WHY??

  2. Your points aren’t incorrect, Gary, but nor are they applicable only to Groovy, or indeed modern music stores.
    “Tendency to put stock in the wrong genre … the callous disregard of basic service principals … the tendency to play whole albums of the most awful hip hop at horrendous volume…” All sounds fairly standard record store stuff to me. And I say that as someone with great affection for music shops.
    There is a way to remove those sticker marks, BTW, by dabbing Sellotape on to the sticky bits and quickly lifting the tape off. Repeat quickly, many times. Not the recommended method for cardboard sleeves, however.

  3. Gah you’ve hit the nail on the head there Gary, i used to love shopping at Real Groovy but now it’s a disgusting reminder of the problems with music retail shopping! Have you ever tried asking the staff anything, they look like they’d rather spit on you than help.

  4. I’ve tried the sellotape method, Richard, and it works for some stickers, but not all of the Real Groovy variety. Those ‘SALE’ stickers are shocking, and the ‘$20 off’ ones are simply impossible. You’re right about my general points, except for the service. While staff at JBs or whatever don’t always have an encyclopedic knowledge, they do generally serve with a smile. The other thing I failed to mention is just how dirty/dusty the stock is at Groovy. It’s not uncommon for there to be real grit inside CD covers, or for the jewel boxes to be broken. The staff just don’t give a rat’s ass.

  5. Oh, I agree that the staff are all cooler than thou (do you ever walk in and think to yourself, ‘If only you realised how much more I know about music than you do. And get a haircut. You little punk’? Is it an age thing, do you think?), but I also remember being that same cooler than thou dickhead when I worked in music stores. You get paid minimum wage, you might as well take it out on your customers.
    I don’t think JB’s staff is cut from the same type of cloth. I don’t doubt they like music, but there’s a sense at somewhere like Groovy or Marbeck’s that music is more important than oxygen. I like that, and I don’t get that feeling at JB.
    That said, of course, I shop far more frequently at JB. Plus I hate my complete inability to ever find anything in Groovy while at the same time being utterly unwilling to ask someone for help, for all of the above reasons.

  6. I haven’t been into Real Groovy for a long long time (more to do with convenience than anything). I am a sticker hater! I hate having to peel stickers off covers, even plastic JCs where you are often left with a sticky smudge that picks up all kinds of filth, hair, fluff and pubes. But there really is no excuse for putting stickers on cardboard covers! The Wharehouse are guilty of this too, though I probably shouldn’t complain too much when the last CD I bought there was only $1.97! (Emerald City’s FANTASTIC debut album; yes I feel guilty).
    But it’s amazing how many people I know that leave the stickers on, even on plastic JC’s and even when it’s covered in them!

    **Expect cynical “Download-only-philes” to have some supercilious opinions on this subject!! 😉

  7. “a sticky smudge that picks up all kinds of filth, hair, fluff and pubes.” Heaven knows what you’re doing while spinning CD’s SirAndy, heaven knows….

  8. Richard, I am sure you weren’t a stuck up dickhead when you worked in retail. (No more than you are now, haw-haw). I think there are two service-related issues here: Real Groovy management, if they were serious about running a successful music shop, would TRAIN their staff in customer service, and make sure they were courteous and helpful. Secondly, I don’t think low wages is an excuse for not having pride in your job. My wife works in hospitality in a low-paying role, but she’s absolutely dedicated to customer service; similarly, I know baristas who get low wages, but have a tremendous pride in serving up great coffees. I often got no wages when I ran my own retail music store, but I still gave it everything I had. Sure, I told a few rude customers to fuck off, but by the same token I had many loyal customers who adored the fact that I would give them my full attention, and help them in their quest for new sounds.

  9. Heh heh, what ya do in the comfort (and seclusion) of your listening room is entirely your business. Esp if you luckily find audio orgasmia in the process.
    Anyhow, I hate stickers on CD covers. So much so I’d love to apply them to the eyes of the person responsible and quickly pull them off – hopefully removing said culprits corneas.
    If I was the Emperor of NZ I’d have it sorted pronto!

  10. You should try listening au naturel sometime. Just don’t let the cat into the room! I take all my clothes off to poo and I take all my clothes off to listen to music – there something wrong with that? Well, apparently it’s not acceptable when one has guests……or children…..

    Anyway, re the stickers, some would say it’s what’s inside that counts but does anyone married to someone hideous TRULY believe that?

  11. SirAndy it’s all so easy for audio/music lovers to get so wrapped up in their listening sessions that they lose track of basic conventions regarding personal hygiene. Luckily you do remember to remove certain items of apparel whilst performing the most basic of bodily functions. I take my hat off to you, there must be nothing worse than listening to music surrounded by audiophiles who haven’t done as you do. Big ups!

  12. You can keep your “big up” to yourself, Gary – I have enough trouble handling my own……..:)

  13. i find the practice of the 4 piece label a pain as npt only do you spend ages trying to remove the bloody label then you get a pile of sticky label jiz at the end of it
    i have used a orange based label remover and have not have it affect cd jewel cases but i wont try it on vinyl covers
    all they have to do is pet the album in a plastic sleeve then p[ut the sticker on that
    seeing as most charge horendous prices for their vinyl, you cant tell me a 5cent plastic cover is to expensive
    unfortunatly they are people that neither love music or care about a product in their care that someone else will one day own, or they are just lazy disinterested minions who should find other employment
    nuff said

  14. I dont like places that open up the pack and put the disc behind the counter and leave the cases out for muppets to paw over, get grubby marks on etc.

    IMO, the ones they sell should be all behind the counter, sealed still and the one on display be sacrificial. Some places manage that for particually in demand items, but so many dont.

    And I find it laughable when they have a crappy xerox of a cover in a case on display because of theft of them. Usually hiphop which kinda makes sense.

  15. Not just contempt for the customer.

    Nearly identical directors and shareholders, operating in the same place, and trading under the same name went under owing suppliers plenty. I don’t see why they should be supported as a local business when they where happy enough to shaft local businesses themselves.

    Prior goodwill has been eroded. Buy elsewhere.

  16. Great points made by all. The Real Groovy shop is a mess and dirty with it. The staff seem to know very little about music. I used to get really pissed off going in asking about stuff reviewed in the Real Groove mag and staff wouldn’t have a clue. I much prefer Marbecks in the arcade.

  17. No need to apologise Joe, we welcome any constructive comments.

    $500 is the NZ RRP. Like most things, you’d probably find them cheaper on the street from a dealer but just about any AV gear available in NZ can be personally imported for less than the local price (excepting the locally made stuff), sometimes the overseas price is far less. For everyone who’s keen to go the personal import route, there’s a few who just want the security of buying from a local dealer and they’ll pay the extra money.

    My recent personal import arrived damaged but this was quickly sorted after going back to China for a repair. Not everyone wants that kind of hassle.

    The local vs. overseas price discussion has been had over and over again and will probably happen on our forums soon as well…no hard and fast answers there I’m afraid.

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