Friday, August 29, 2008

Coworkers: Part 15 - They Looked 18

   The store received a fair amount of publicity and credibility for selling all those Two Live Crews. Weren't a lot of locations that stuck their neck out by stocking the party rappers during the height of the Congressional notoriety.
   Free speech is celebrated and over estimated in this nation. Doesn't exist, Sunshine. Our local newspaper was conservative and hardly the beacon for tolerance. We never knew if they had launched an actual investigation or merely a sting, designed to take down Camp Bowie a notch.
   Most of us suspected the latter.
   Sound Warehouse rented all sorts of movies. Westerns, Action, Foreign, Comedies, Horror. Our location also had a fair number of titles not offered at other locations. Previous Video ops, Angela and Dave, learned how to tweak stock from Carey. When they received 40 copies of hot title, which was also sell through priced (ie: not $99.99, but $19.99), they loaded 35 units into the section and added 5 unusual titles. Mostly Art House fare, vintage comedies like Marx Brothers or Three Stooges, Musicals, Independent Films, Adult titles.
   Alright, Adult. There was Bromo approved Adult, and there were the titles we slipped into the section. Bromo rentals were predominantly Playboy videos. In-house choices included Betty Blue, Fritz The Cat, Queen Margot, Flesh Gordon, Cook Thief Wife Lover, etc ...
   There were no fresh in-house titles. Carey was gone. Angela was gone. Dave was gone. Pat ran Video and played by company rules. She never slipped unordered titles into the rentals, fearing unknown consequences. Didn't matter. Rob, Todd and Dan bumped the section now and then. We remained a very independent store, killing Mom 'N Pop outlets, kicking the ass out of Blockbuster.
   Saturday morning. Copies of the daily newspaper were in the back office and on Video counters. Our store had been mentioned.
   Prominently.
   Seemed a committee of do-gooders wanted to form a local ratings board. They sent children, ages 10 - 16, to over a dozen different video shops in Cowtown. Buying, renting, or simply trying to view R rated content. To check what stores would peddle inappropriate material to minors. They had an agenda, and they must have known most places were staffed by teenagers who weren't going to ID customers.
   Most stores failed the sting. Take It Home, Blockbuster, Tom Thumb, Video Super Center, Osco, were all cited. Yet the store our local newspaper rag chose to focus on, " ... and then there's Sound Warehouse ... "
   Gee, thanks, guys. Hope you appreciated all those advertising dollars we gave you over the years.
   The Boss made sure everyone read the article, then gave the guilty culprit a quiet beating. Someone who played by the rules, fearing unknown consequences.
   Her sole explanation, " ... but ... they looked 18."
   Mistakes happen. The individual involved was deeply embarrassed and sorry.
   There would always be that conflict between free speech vs. censorship.
   None of our titles were pulled.
   Business, by the way, picked up.
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