Individuals have introduced some unusual objects into Zia Information to promote over time. Simply ask longtime Mike Durham, the file retailer chain’s media purchaser and a former retailer supervisor, who’s actually seen all of it.
Past CDs, DVDs, or video video games, Zia clients have been recognized to herald some somewhat oddball objects, which Durham says is enjoyable.
“It is nearly like Pawn Stars, within the sense that you simply by no means know what is going on to return by means of these doorways,” Durham says. “Generally it is actually bizarre, which is cool, as a result of the stuff we do not see day-after-day is extra thrilling.”
Just like the time somebody introduced in a CPR dummy or an official NASCAR tire. Each had been purchased by staff at Zia’s commerce counter and wound up promoting inside days.
Zia Information has been shopping for and buying and selling stuff since its first retailer opened in spring 1980. In these days, it was high quality used information and cassettes, which Zia founder Brad Singer was wanting to resell. Quick-forward to right this moment and Zia has grow to be an eight-store chain that buys every little thing from information, tapes, and CDs to books, video video games, collectibles, and attire. (They’ve even bought masks and costumes for Halloween.)
“”It is all a part of the pop cultural factor or way of life factor that Zia has expanded into [over the last decade],” Durham says. “Sometimes our clients aren’t going to return in and be like ‘I solely need CDs or motion pictures or video video games.’ And after they’re strolling by means of the shop, they may see one thing else they’re into.”
Lots of these things have been purchased by Zia staff at its commerce counter, one of many chain’s hallmarks over the last 40 years. It’s been a lifeline for cash-strapped Arizonans or a spot to unload outdated collections of stuff. Commerce counter staff have been notoriously discerning or fickle over the many years, a lot to the chagrin of shoppers.
In honor of this week’s cover story on the historical past of Zia Information, we spoke with many present and former Zia staff who’ve labored behind the commerce counters over time. What follows is a group of their tales and experiences, which embody loads of wild and loopy tales.
The Early Days of Zia’s Commerce Counter
Toni Koch, early Zia worker: Zia was doing trades just about from the start. Individuals would are available in with containers of used information, their household heirlooms, or no matter, and in the event that they had been of high quality, we might purchase them. [Zia founder Brad Singer] would all the time be on us about inspecting information, ensuring they had been high quality, and should you did not take them, you’d all the time be certain clients would know why in a sort [manner]. In the event that they nonetheless needed to throw them at you, you could possibly all the time name the bosses and ask to offer folks an additional $2 credit score or no matter.
Sandra Singer, ex-wife of Zia Information founder Brad Singer: We had a very good commerce and markup. We had been giving folks 50 % [of the value in] money and two-thirds for commerce, not like most used file shops right this moment.
Bobby Lerma, early Zia buyer: The entire concept of having the ability to commerce your music in once more and both get cash or get new music was fairly distinctive again then [in the early ’80s].
Koch: Most individuals would are available in with information, however generally they’d attempt to promote us different issues. Kimber [Lanning] got here in to the [first Zia in Phoenix] as she was an younger teenager and put a bunch of buttons and was like, “I need to know should you’d be prepared to commerce me these button for one among your $4.99 12-inch vinyls.”
Kimber Lanning, former Zia worker/present proprietor of Stinkweeds Information: I used to be simply this 13- or 14-year-old child and I collected buttons from bands and stuff. I made a decision I would somewhat have information, so I went in and needed to know what Toni would give me for them.
Koch: I advised her, “ we do not commerce buttons,” and he or she simply stated, “Properly, it is best to.” We bought into it in a great way and since we had been the one women in a [record store] just about full of fellows, I assumed, “What the hell?” and let her have the information for the buttons.
Cait Brennan, former Zia worker: Individuals would herald something, and wouldn’t restrict it to simply information. Generally they’d strive promoting us garments or outdated socks or no matter. Zia did not take books again then, however folks would convey of their highschool textbooks.
Lanning: After I began working [at Zia], the weirdest expertise I had with a commerce was [getting] a banana peel and a few 8-tracks with no tape inside. I bear in mind it was this dude with a tin-foil arrow on his head who appeared fairly intimidating. It was the primary time I needed to flip somebody utterly away. He was like, “What do you imply you will not purchase these?” And I simply gazing him, going “I am actually sorry, I can not use them.” He was a foot taller than me and simply bought indignant. I might actually hear my coronary heart pounding in my ears, however he simply stormed off.
Brennan: Individuals had been complaining in regards to the [trade amounts] again then. Many of the regulars who purchased an album for $three the earlier week and did not dig it, they had been nice. Peculiar clients discovered a field of Dad’s albums within the attic and hauled it in pondering they’d depart with $1,000 bought very irate. They would not be comfortable should you did not purchase their stuff as a result of it could not be resold or wasn’t cool. They took it personally, like we had been insulting their tastes by rejecting their Barry Manilow albums. It was like, “Dude, we have got 50 already.”
This implies you.
The Economics of Buying and selling at Zia
Steve Mandel, former Zia worker: There have been lots of belongings you needed to take into account, like stock ranges within the [Zia Records] chain, so like should you’re shopping for like a Jawbreaker CD, you gotta assume, “Do we have now a thousand Jawbreaker CDs all through the chain already? Do we’d like this one?” Lots of it was simply those that had been upset that we would not take their stuff in commerce. If folks thought we had been giving them dangerous offers or one thing, they’d flip out. They did not perceive how a lot or how little their CDs had been really valued. We needed to be on our toes. You needed to earn your method as much as working the commerce counter.
Mike Durham, former Zia retailer supervisor/present media purchaser: It is all about provide and demand. Clearly, we’re a enterprise, and there is extra that goes into [trade decisions] than making a bit of cash. Sometimes, the extra you could have of one thing, the extra the worth goes down. If one thing comes throughout the counter we might not often see and it sells shortly, the worth goes up. But when I’ve bought a field of 25 of the identical CD sitting within the backroom, the worth goes down.
Mandel: A dude got here in as soon as and sidled as much as us like he had a Fabergé egg or one thing. He fingers me this CD and was like, “How a lot will you give me, my man?” And I used to be like, “It is a Younger MC CD. We’ve got a zillion of those.” He says “However it’s the import model. It’s value 40 or 50 bucks simple.” Then I needed to level out to him that it wasn’t value a lot as a result of he’d carved his initials into the play space.
Jarrett Hankinson, present Zia CEO: We’ve seen every kind of reactions to being advised their stuff isn’t value as a lot as they assume. Some persons are cool about, others have gone loopy.
Mandel: We had one man who we discovered finally labored for a [record store] chain in California. And, apparently, they’d ship him their overstock CDs and he’d go from retailer to retailer making an attempt to promote them. At first, he was simply this man we might see each couple of months who was very nice however would herald containers of CDs we might by no means heard of earlier than. And after we knowledgeable him we might solely give him $Four to $5 as a result of it was all rubbish, he’d get actually upset and depart in a huff.
CDs within the low cost bin at Zia Information in Mesa.
Loopy Reactions and Secret Stashes
Zak Frankel, Zia’s safety and occasions supervisor: The commerce counters at Zia have positively had some bizarre shit. You attempt to deal with all people extraordinarily pretty however some persons are simply out of their fucking minds. We have had folks coming in bleeding, tweakers, no matter. We had a man who introduced in a bunch of stolen stuff to the [now-closed Zia on Seventh Avenue and Indian School Road] and the cops got here in proper afterward. I believe they’d been following him. The cops tried grabbing him and he ran proper by means of the fucking window. like a cartoon character. “POW!”
Mary Papenhausen, Zia advertising and marketing, promotions, and web site coordinator: One of many funniest issues about trade-in is [that Zia employees] will generally discover notes and peculiar issues like notes, footage, and random stuff folks left of their CDs or their vinyl and people issues are left everywhere in the counters or within the again places of work at Zia. We by no means throw these issues away. It is a bizarre amalgamation of ideas and emotions from folks.
Durham: Considered one of my favourite issues to return by means of was a “Bizarre Al” Yankovic file. Once we slid the file out to examine it, a complete pile of Victoria’s Secret clippings got here out with it. Sooner or later, somebody had hid their little stash of images inside. Oddly sufficient, that is not the one time it occurred. I had a whole assortment of metallic cassettes come by means of and in each single one was a bit of stash of folded-up Playboy footage.
Brennan: Generally you would be checking on the situation of an album and a bunch of cash would fall out. They’d forgot they’d shoved some money in there. You’d give it again them and go, “Hey pal, I believe you may’ve forgotten one thing in right here.”
Frankel: We opened a bin of stuff as soon as and it was stuffed with bedbugs they usually had been all over. It was actually gross. This was fairly lately, too.
Durham: We have seen stashes [of marijuana], too, the place you open up a DVD case and go, “ooh, I do not assume that was meant to be left in there.” Generally we hand them again what’s in there; most time we simply shut it up and provides it again to them.
Zia as soon as offered a CPR dummy. True story.
Uncommon Gems and Bizarre Trades
Frankel: We sometimes get in some actually uncommon stuff. These “butcher” cover [versions of The Beatles album Yesterday and Today] come in additional typically than you’d assume. I am not speaking essentially month-to-month, however just a few occasions a 12 months. Generally the particular person wouldn’t notice how precious it’s and I’ve to face there, and go. “Hey, that is really an costly file.”
Hankinson: I’ve come throughout just a few “butcher” covers. That is been the massive one that individuals will freak out about and it tends to be the crown jewel of [record stores].
Mandel: I bought lots of issues that I actually needed personally in my assortment, like outdated British punk rock. this is a band referred to as Hawkwind that had been huge in England and never actual huge right here. For some motive, Phoenix was the one metropolis in America that loved Hawkwind, so I discovered lots of these obscure imports come by means of.
Durham: Within the final 12 months and a half, I had a gentleman who was an enormous worldwide Nirvana collector, who determined to get out of that. I do not know the precise rely, however I might say there have been properly over 300 completely different Nirvana information. He had each urgent from each nation all over the world for each file, even the check pressings and issues like that. Most of that assortment has offered. Over a interval of six months, he positively bought paid very, very, very properly, and was very comfortable.
Hankinson: It has been everywhere in the map so far as what folks will herald.
Durham: I actually like it when folks lose the unique jacket for a file and would create their very own. In my workplace, I’ve a duplicate of Led Zeppelin II with a hand-painted cowl. It is clearly novice hour, however it’s bought like a bizarre, little mountaintop with eyes. It says, “Led” after which “Zeppelin II.” I really like these, type of like one-off artistic issues, that one way or the other make their strategy to us.
Hankinson: We encourage folks to herald nearly something as a result of we attempt to be as open-minded as we will with no matter we will promote. We purchased a NASCAR tire as soon as. A buyer off the road simply introduced it in and [a Zia employee] purchased it off him. I bear in mind him saying we might get 50 bucks for it. I used to be like, “Are you fucking kidding me? To procure a fucking tire?” After which it offered in two days. It strengthened the character of our enterprise and that we might purchase lots of stuff. Our clients are on the lookout for every little thing and never simply music.
Durham: We had a CPR follow dummy that got here in as soon as. It was simply bizarre sufficient and we had been capable of purchase it at simply the suitable worth. And you understand how shortly it offered? Hours. Somebody got here alongside and stated, “That is bizarre and I need it.”