Any lover of records in the Los Angeles area is no doubt well-acquainted with the wonderful Amoeba Music. Acting as a musical gateway to the stars and regular folk alike, they are well-known to carry just about every single recorded genre under the sun. Strolling through their record bins typically requires a huge cash float in your pocket and a tremendous about of willpower. Amoeba will be one of the sponsors of the upcoming Crate Diggers event in Los Angeles, and to spotlight their involvement we took a few minutes to catch up with Amoeba employee and dance music buyer Oliver Bristow to chat about their effect on the community, their involvement with Discogs, and what they’re looking forward to most about Crate Diggers LA!
I helped open Amoeba Hollywood in the summer of 2001. I was hired as the electronic music buyer but not based on the work with my Acid Test label as that launched in 2011 almost 10 years later. I did however come from another label, Pagan based in the UK.
What can you tell us about your Discogs experience as it relates to the store? Have you built any repeat buyer relationships based on your stock?
We keep a large amount of our 12” stock in our Discogs store, the sales we do on Discogs amount to a good percentage of our overall 12” sales. We definitely have a lot of regular customers that we’ve made relationships with over the years.
What is the relationship the store has with the surrounding community (in Hollywood) been like?
From residents, schools, businesses, restaurants, and local city organizations, the relationship has been great. There is a great appreciation and gratitude to what the store represents and brings to the neighborhood. For a few years now, one of our managers has served on both the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Sunset and Vine BID board. We have participated in the safety, homeless outreach, beautification, and health of Hollywood. With this we have formed many great relationships with our neighbors.
How long has Amoeba been doing the “What’s In My Bag?” segments? Do you know with whom the very first “What’s In My Bag?” segment was with?
We have been doing What’s In My Bag since 2008. The first episode was with “Weird Al” Yankovic and was an impromptu interview rather than the way we film them today. We happened to see him at the registers getting checked out and stopped him on his way out. The interview took place in our elevator lobby.
What are some of your general thoughts on vinyl culture? Do you find it to be a passing fad, or do you think it can sustain itself?
Vinyl culture has grown so much in recent years. When we opened the store in 2001 it was at a time where the digital was emerging and becoming popular. CD’s were at their height of popularity and soon began to decline in years to come. But we’ve always catered to a customer that wants something tangible and vinyl has been the preferred format for true music lovers. Who would have thought about opening a store of this magnitude at the same time as iTunes was launched and becoming the format of choice. At the moment there is a huge resurgence in vinyl amongst young kids and it doesn’t seem like to be slowing down any time soon.
Amoeba is known for having a huge selection of all genres, new and used. How do you keep customers coming back over the years? What are your processes like as far as buying and selling used items?
For new product we have a team of buyers who handle different genres and work with tons of distributors worldwide so we have access to a lot of product.
With used product we have a buy counter that is open every day in which we offer both cash and store credit. We also travel throughout the US to obtain large collections and we have an upcoming round up event in San Diego at the King’s Inn for 3 days where we’ll be set up to buy collections from the San Diego community.
As one of the sponsors for the Crate Diggers event, do you find events like these only solidify relationships with your customers? Why or why not?
Events like Crate Diggers are very important to us as it gives us a chance to interact with the community on a different level. It allows us to build stronger relationships as there’s always the die hard collector that we see out at all sorts of outside events whether it’s somewhere like the PCC flea market, Beat Swap or the like that we can connect with, and it’s really cool to see people so excited about music. It’s also great to build relationships with other vendors.
What facet of Crate Diggers do you look forward to the most personally?
Digging for records at the event will be fantastic, but I’m also really excited about the event we’re hosting the night before with Theo, Marcellus and Zernell. They will dig for records at the store that day and DJ that night with the records they’ve found. You can then purchase anything that they’ve played. Will be a fun night!