I remember the day I got my first pair of headphones. I was five years old and the Easter Bunny brought me a Smurfs walkman radio. It was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I spent hours with those things on—in the car, in the house, outside riding my big wheel. I can’t really remember what I was listening to back then. After all, I was five, and it was an AM/FM radio, so suffice it to say, it was probably nothing that anyone else in my world wanted to hear. Well played, Mom and Dad.
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Last year, I set up a modest but awesome home theater system with the help of my boyfriend Matt. I was thrilled because I could finally experience my music collection from my living room and kitchenette. I could use a remote to browse by artist or genre via my TV screen. What music nerd wouldn’t want that? However, my excitement gradually waned as I realized just how disorganized my 23,000 song music collection was. Browsing for music was a nightmare. Scrolling through long lists of misspelled, mislabeled, and duplicated artists, albums, and genres was enough to drive one berserk. Ironically, I was beginning to feel like a frustrated user.
The summer of 1991 was fast approaching. I needed a source of income to pay my rent over the summer or I’d have to live at home with my parents and little brother. No self respecting college sophomore would willingly choose to do this. I had worked in a chain record store in high school, so I figured I’d go down to my favorite independent record store and see if I could get a job. As “luck” would have it, they needed a janitor-slash-lackey. Thus began my romance with the nearly extinct species of business known as the independent music retailer.