Many years ago, before Amazon and iTunes recommended music to us based on browser cookies, we had disc jockeys and record store clerks to help us find the music we like. Now, media conglomerates run radio stations, and big retail provides all the music hits without all that silly product knowledge. Sure, you can buy the hottest new release cheaply, but after that, the selection runs a little thin, as does the expertise. Go to Best Buy or Target, and a teenager in a polo shirt will ask every customer, "Can I help you with anything?" but not be able to answer a single question. That's not right.
A friend and I recently bemoaned the loss of "Record Store Guy"-- the one you could trust to know your taste, and help find and hold records, as well as offer recommendations that made sense. I miss record shop employees who love music. In this age, though, Record Store Guy is an endangered species.
So when I saw the cover story on Luna Music (Allan, "Luna Turns 15," Nov. 25-Dec. 2), I had to smile. I've been going to Luna regularly for more than a decade, and in that time I've probably spent a few thousand dollars and more importantly, a few hundred hours crate digging. I've visited dozens of record shops, both bad and good, across two continents, and I always seem to compare them to the Luna model (and it is a model for excellence in niche marketing). Luna is an institution -- something I'll go out of my way to find. When I visited the UK, I found myself holding some discs in a record shop thousands of miles from Indy, and as I put all of the CDs back on the shelf, I thought to myself, "I'll just buy these at Luna when I get home."
The folks at Luna seem to do everything just right: personal attention and expertise without the pretentious douchebaggery and High Fidelity condescension. (Well, to be honest, sometimes even Luna employees seem pretentious, but maybe that's me projecting latent insecurities: I'm the one buying yet another Rush album.)
Luna might have to charge a little more than the big box stores, but that's fine because the intangibles are worth it. I'm glad they're still here.