Listen: I Can’t Let Go / The Hollies [audio:
Discount Records, in the mid 60′s through to the early 70′s, was what you’d call a full catalog store. Owned by CBS, the classical and non-classical titles ran very deep. It wasn’t just the bins that’d be full, so too were the ‘understock’ shelves below. These were arranged by label, then numerical within each. Almost daily, stock would need checking, business was so brisk. Not only did you have to count quantities of big sellers, but also determine missing titles by number, checking them against the respective label’s current catalog, all the while entering the quantities onto inventory sheets. The designated store buyer would eventually decide how many of each to order.
Everyone hated taking inventory, but not me. I couldn’t wait to get started on my first day in mid ’74. Within a week or so, I was on fire. I didn’t even need the catalogs. I’d been studying labels for years at that point. Basically when it came to records, I could remember every detail, still can. Bob at the second location in Syracuse was the same. To us, the catalog numbers were fun. They basically made up our entire conversations. When it came to doing anything else – I was useless. If I had to hang a picture, I’d bend the nail. But this stuff was easy.
Like anywhere, there were store regulars, all with their specific and peculiar tastes. One guy would visit almost daily, trolling the $1.99 bins for country titles. His name was Dave Disinger. We had these large, fluorescent red markdown stickers, and once something sat long enough, you’d eventually price it cheap to make it move. Plus, overstock from other locations would be shipped in for just these bins. Occasionally, some location in Michigan or somewhere would close, and we’d get boxes of their stuff – always really good finds in those. I vividly remember getting several copies of THEM AGAIN this way. It was like Christmas morning when those boxes would arrive.
Well Dave was addicted to country markdowns. I made amusement for myself by intentionally pulling full price, more obscure titles and throwing on the sticker, then wait and watch. Sure enough, he’d be joyous at these finds. One day we get to talking – I was sorting a bunch of newly arrived 45′s at the front counter. He mentions he used to be a singles guy, rock and soul, but moved on to country LP’s. He didn’t even play his singles anymore. Clearly, I was his direct opposite. Somehow or another, he mentions as a kid, he worked at WNDR, the tighter Top 40 in the market but very popular in the 60′s.
So wait Dave, do you have a lot of old stuff? Now I’m getting interested – and pretty quickly I’m offering a lot of on the spot country markdowns in exchange for some of those radio station copies from the day. He heads home then and there, returning with a box, probably 200-ish.
Fantastic! Fuck me – this was a goldmine. He brought them till his supply was dry. Only drawback was he’s written his name on every last one. Still, the stuff was crazy. That first box included The Riot Squad ‘How Is It Down’ and The Kinks ‘Waterloo Sunset’, plus, as you can see, ‘I Can’t Let Go’. It was the very copy that WNDR never did play.