Sunday, April 28, 2013

Believe In Us – We’re MUSIC+PLUS!

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My first job out of high school was at this MUSIC+PLUS record store in Riverside, California. It was summer, 1989, and I was beyond stoked to get to work there. To a young dude fresh out of high school who had a deep love of music and movies, it was a DREAM JOB. Music+Plus was a chain of commercial record and video stores located mostly throughout California. In addition to selling music on vinyl, cassette, and compact disc, we also rented and sold videos on VHS and sold tickets to concerts and events. That was the “plus” part in the Music+Plus equation…

I loved this job, but left after a couple of years when the chain got bought out by a bigger, national chain (I think Blockbuster bought us out, but I can’t remember exactly). Music+Plus had always been a freewheeling, partying kind of company (and how!) and I remember the new company having all these new rules and regulations that I was not down with. The party was over and it was time to move on. Several years later, I would use my formative experience at Music+Plus to get a job with the cool indie record store in town – MAD PLATTER – which was literally around the corner from where Music+Plus was…

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I had many great memories here. I remember squirt gun and water balloon fights between the employees, in the store, during business hours; I remember how much it sucked to be in the display window during the summer when it was hot, sweaty, and stuffy – the sweat would roll into your eyes as you tried come up with new and interesting ways to staple 12″ flats (2-sided, 12″ x 12″ square promotional posters) to the display boards; I remember ETTA JAMES pulling up to the front of the store in her tour bus and then basically buying out our entire jazz, soul, and R&B sections – on cassette; I remember having to close the store early the day the L.A. Riots happened – I remember pulling the gates across the windows before rushing home and then hoping that the store wouldn’t get looted or smashed that evening; I remember when the company rented out Disneyland for their Employee Appreciation Day; I remember going to see Andy Bell and Vince Clarke of Erasure at an in-store meet-and-greet at a different Music+Plus – I remember really wanting to meet Vince Clarke, but only ended up meeting Andy because Vince was sick that day; I remember being able to score great seats to great concerts for myself because I knew how to work Ticketmaster like the back of my hand; and of course, I remember the countless parties after we clocked out, and all the wonderful people I had a chance to work with…the photos above look like they were taken at sunset, and that’s exactly the way I want to remember the store. Since then, I’ve seen that store become a Container Store and then a store that sold blinds and curtains. I haven’t been back to Riverside in a while to see what has become of the old space now…

Below is a photo of the back of the store where we stored all our video rentals. Customers would bring up empty movie boxes encased in plastic sleeves off the display shelves and then we would retrieve the actual VHS tapes from our library and put them in the boxes for checkout. One of my old managers, Jennifer, is standing behind the counter (she’s the one wearing the Music+Plus vest, which was part of our “uniform”). All these photos were taken from the Music+Plus Alumni page on Facebook, and they were originally posted by Darrell Dooley. I don’t know why, but I never took photos in the store or took photos of the store, so I don’t have any of my own to show. I was excited to see these photos surface on the internet, and I just wanted to be able to share a bit of my history with you all…

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Some old commercials that ran during the time that I worked at Music+Plus:

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