Now that cases are falling, many states have lifted restrictions, including California. I wonder if you’ve even seen restrictions on retail stores being lifted or eased?
Nothing for retail, but there have been some changes to some assembly regulations and initial talks about reopening schools. So there is certainly some movement towards reopening, but nothing that concerns us specifically.
Last time we talked about government support and you said you could qualify for something. Have you already figured out what you might be eligible for?
We are entitled to apply [but] So far we have decided not to apply because we don’t need it as much as others. This is our approach for now. That could change if something changes in terms of downtimes or closings or the like. But right now we’re pretty confident that we don’t need anyone else [Paycheck Protection Program] Loan.
Online sales have apparently skyrocketed across all different segments during the pandemic. Have you seen your share of online sales increase since the pandemic? And if so, what increase have you noticed?
Yes. That was one of the things that grew as soon as we closed our doors because that was the case pretty much across the country, with stay at home orders almost everywhere. And so both our website and online platforms, be it Amazon or eBay, Discogs, grew exponentially during this time. With stores reopening, they have decreased a bit, but they are still at a very high level. Even in January, [online sales were] 25 to 30% year over year January.
Some people say this could be a big change in the way people shop for the long term – that people who didn’t buy online before the pandemic and are now used to it may continue to do so because of the pandemic. Do you think that will be the case?
I think the logical answer to your question would be yes. I would guess people are ordering more online. The interesting thing is since we reopened and now, almost a month and a half after the holidays this year, it doesn’t feel like that in the store. This is interesting especially when it comes to new LPs as people can easily buy these online. But we see that even in a week like this when it was brutally cold, people come in to buy new records.
What do you think of online sales compared to in-store sales in general?
Of course, we have always focused on our local customers, and we want to be a resource for them. But there is certainly something to be said about the global market and things that some of our customers may not be interested in. Especially if you look at a platform like Amazon, we sell a lot of used CDs on this platform that are not for sale in the store. It’s literally just things that we have listed there that are selling well there.
And you have to keep in mind that there are a lot of people in this country who don’t have a local record store. And so physically going to a brick and mortar store is not an option for them. Then some of these online platforms come into play. I think we were fortunate to have made a really significant investment in listing products online even before COVID hit. So it wasn’t something that we absolutely had to get into.
Taylor Swift announced that she has re-recorded Fearless and plans to release it as “Taylor’s Version” of the album. Do you think this is something that people are going to buy and buy quickly?
It’s hard to know Of course, something from Taylor Swift will be in demand. And I think people would certainly rather buy the version that will benefit them financially. So it could have a bigger impact on future sales than necessarily on the day of release.