While other record stores struggle to make ends meet in an industry that has seen better days, Jackpot Records is breaking out the cake, candles, and pointy party hats in honor of their 10th anniversary. In addition to the party supplies, there will be a real bash this Saturday, featuring performances from Saturday Looks Good to Me, Grails, We're from Japan, and tons more. Before he drags his fingers through the cake's frosting (because it's his party and he can do whatever he damn well wants), Jackpot's owner Isaac Slusarenko takes a minute to talk about their success in an unstable market, Smash Mouth shirts, and something called a "Jazz Troll."
Lasting 10 years as a small business is an impressive feat, but a decade as a record store in an industry hemorrhaging money is even more amazing. What does Jackpot do differently than other stores that haven't been able to keep their heads above water?
Records-wise, we're sticking with music. It's all we sell. Jackpot Records has a hand-curated inventory, and we try to provide a selection that strikes a balance of one foot in the past, one foot in the future. It's like going to a restaurant and being presented with a well-crafted menu that changes daily.
As a record store owner, is it easy to get caught up in the Chicken Little panic about "the end of the music industry"?
It's not just the music industry that is having a hard time surviving. I think many sectors of the economy are struggling too: books, the movie industry, real estate, construction, and restaurants. There isn't a simple answer; there are a lot of factors involved. Maybe people take small businesses for granted in the sense that they feel they'll always be here. It's a lot of work to keep at it when you are an independent business, and the true cost of your goods is not always appreciated by the public, who can be seduced by the Best Buys, Costcos, and McDonald's of the world.
I view downloads the same as blank tapes. The music industry was in an uproar about that phenomenon in the '80s, à la "Home taping is killing the music industry." You have to think about downloads in context. They don't sound as good as a true source, and cassette tape stretches and oxidizes while MP3s are compressed sound files. Tapes break and hard drives crash, that's a reality that a lot of people have experienced. Hopefully, our customers will continue to cherish music in a tactile way, where the sound, artwork, and package make the experience memorable.
Part of Jackpot's excellent reputation comes from a very knowledgeable staff. If I show up to a job interview in a Smash Mouth T-shirt and comment on how Captain Beefheart is an actual ship's captain, I'm probably not going to get hired, right?
Only if you have the Smash Mouth "Shrek 2 World Tour" shirt, 2006 edition. Very rare. It's a misconception that we only hire people that have musical knowledge. The best employee for us is someone who is like a sponge; soaking up everything that comes their way with genuine interest and excitement. Those are the kind of people that I want to work with versus, say, "Pavement Man," "Beatles Expert," or the "Jazz Troll."
Jackpot Records' 10th anniversary party is Saturday, November 3 at Lola's Room (7 pm, free), and features performances by Grails, Eclipse, Saturday Looks Good to Me, We're from Japan, Dark Skies, and is hosted by Sean Croghan.