In our ongoing interview series Records In The Time of Corona we talk to global records stores about what they are doing on the daily, we took the opportunity to sit down with Allen Johnson aka DJ/ Producer Albert Jenkins, record shop owner of Needle to the Groove Records in San Jose and Fremont, CA and get his take on how this pandemic is changing the way record stores operate. Enjoy.
How has the global pandemic affected your day to day record store?
Our brick & mortar stores are closed for buying, selling, & trading, but we’ve been selling online which has been a lifeline. The worst part is that our team is furloughed and on unemployment. We wouldn’t be here without our dedicated guys who work day in & out and they’re the hardest working, best guys I know. We love what we do, so we’re all trying to stay connected while in lockdown.
What are you doing differently to get sales?
Adding more inventory online mainly. Some social media sales & private deals.
Can you explain if you’re doing anything different, and how selling online mostly has helped or hurt you now?
Again the hardest part is not having our team. Online selling isn’t our 1st choice but we understand it’s kind of a necessary evil at this point. It’s a huge help to our dried up income stream, so we can’t complain about it.
Are people still getting rid of collections at this time?
Our county is under strict lockdown, and due to health concerns, we have not been following up on collections.
Is this downtime at the physical shop forcing you to dig through your own collection more?
Personally, I haven’t had to sell off part of my collection because we have so much inventory in our shop.
What gems have you revisited in your own collection?
I started digging 45s when quarantine 1st started & found some great sleepers in my collection, like The Lovers “Someone” on the Philips label, Lee Moses “My Adorable One”, & William Bell “Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday”. LP wise, too many to name, but I’ve been very into the Lijadu Sisters “Danger”, and “Lord Have Mercy” has been my lament of the last month.
Are you doing anything else non-record related during this time?
Playing my keys, mixing songs I’m producing for a rap record we have coming out, exercising, cooking, teaching my kids, meditating, & staying connected with my folks.
What has this global pandemic shown you about the record game?
That it’s still strong!
Any tips for record heads that are going nuts by not being able to go to a record store?
You’re not the only one. Sit back enjoy the records you have and ears you have to enjoy them with. Save your money, because when we re-open we’ll need that support!
Last comments, whatever you want.
I cannot express how grateful we are for all the supporters of Needle to the Groove. The online orders have been crucial & it’s very humbling to receive so many kind words & customers when the sky is falling above us.
We love you for real. We would not be here if it weren’t for these amazing folks whom I have the pleasure to work with DJ Basura, Tucker Gootee, Heidi Johnson, David Ma, & Daniel Bernal for being intricate in the daily life of Needle to the Groove. I love you guys. Thanks for having me & come give us a visit if you’re in the Bay Area.