No Fly List: Notes from Sub Pop’s Airport Store, May 2015
What I Haven’t Learned After One Year at the Airport Store
After reading the general manager’s write-up of the airport store on our 1 year anniversary, I was naturally revolted by all of the praise and felt compelled to undercut any inflated expectations about our humble retail operation. Despite the label’s best efforts to indoctrinate me in all-things Sub Pop, and foster excellent customer-service skills amongst the retail staff, I still feel like I’m mostly fumbling my way around. So, without further ado, here are some things I still haven’t mastered after working for a year at the Sub Pop Airport store*:
- Snappy comebacks to any of the following FAQs:
I. What is SUB POP?
II. What does SUB POP stand for?
III. Is that VINYL back there?
My best answers:
I. Sub Pop is a record label that started in 1988, in Seattle, Washington. Fast forward 26 years, and many illicit ingested substances later, they got the harebrained idea to open a store in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
II. Sub Pop is an initialism for Superior Unique Bro-fessionals Pursuing Overwhelming Profits.
III. No, those are wall calendars. All for the year 2015, but reusable in 2026!
- Coherent music recommendations: Working at a record store in an airport means interacting with people from all over the world, with all different kinds of music tastes. On occasion, I am asked to help someone find music in our store that sounds like “viola-fusion,” “cabaret,” or “Dire Straits.” My answer for any and all requests is usually Goat. All roads in music lead to Goat.
- Playing along when a customer decides to “stump the millennial sales clerk”: No, I don’t know the location of the Sub Pop recording studio, nor do I know the name of your best friend’s cousin’s neighbor who totally played bass in Soundgarden back in the day. Take your Mudhoney shirt and leave me alone!
- Knowing what size t-shirt your child/spouse/sibling wears: It’s probably for the best that I don’t know intimate details about your family members who I’ve never met before. Just sayin’.
- Reacting to all the enthusiasm in the store: The majority of people who visit the store (and are at least somewhat familiar with Sub Pop) are usually blown away and ecstatic to find our outpost at the airport. It is super gratifying/humbling/inspiring to see this response, and it often makes my face hurt.
*Let me reiterate that I’m speaking entirely about myself here. The rest of my colleagues are professionals who routinely show their expertise in the store, and I hope you interact with any one of them during your next visit.