Bob Fuchs Q&A

March 30, 2020
Bob Fuchs is the general manager of Electric Fetus.

“I had some pretty awful experiences at record stores growing up involving condescending clerks. I vowed we would never be that type of environment.”

You’ve worked at the Electric Fetus for 32 years. Did you ever imagine you’d still be there when you started?

I never imagined I’d be here for 32 years. My initial plan was to work a year at the Fetus then go back to school but I was having too much fun to leave.

How big is your personal record collection? Is your place filled to the brim like John Cusack’s apartment in High Fidelity?

My personal collection is about 5,000-6,000 LPs and CDs combined. I live in a small house so I don’t have room for much more than that. I am very picky about what I bring home at this point.

How important has Record Store Day been to your business?

RSD has been huge for us in a couple of ways. First, it is our busiest day of the year by a long shot and that never hurts. (It’s also a heck of a good time!) Secondly, the RSD folks work hard year-round as advocates for our stores and our industry. They have created a great awareness around the country and the world about what we do. It’s a much larger impact than I ever would have imagined.

How worried were you in 2000 when ITunes and Amazon came online? It seemed at the time like it could be the death of record stores but thank god that didn’t happen.

The drop in sales after about 2001 was pretty evident and worrisome. It even surpassed the difficulties we had with the big box retailers in the 1990s. By 2005, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t last the decade.

You’ve been quoted as saying that the store has worked hard to become about customer service as much as product. Do you find that to be a differentiator in the marketplace, where some stores can seem snobby? 

I hope we are known for our customer service. No store is ever perfect but I have always believed that if we can’t use our knowledge to help folks we shouldn’t even open the door in the morning. I had some pretty awful experiences at record stores growing up involving some condescending clerks. I vowed we would never be that type of environment.

How important are events to your business? Do you have an all-time favorite in-store performance?

Events have been a very important part of the business over the years. They are also usually the most enjoyable days here, too, as an employee. It is so fun to see fans with big smiles on their faces when they sing along to an artist or get their picture taken with them. We also get a lot of great feedback from customers on in-store performances.

What percentage of your vinyl sales are used versus new?

It’s about a 55/45 split between used and new records, respectively. That can vary a bit as it depends on what we get in the way of used buys.

Prince famously made an appearance at Record Store Day in 2016. Did you get a chance to speak with him many times over the years? What was he like?

I was able to very briefly speak with Prince when he was in but it was pretty much a basic “Hello and thanks for supporting” type of conversation. He was always very kind and genuine. He wanted to shop just like anybody else when he was here. There was no pretension at all.

You’ve mentioned in interviews that it seems like young women are a key demographic in terms of today’s vinyl consumers. Why do you think that is?

I’m not sure why so many more women have been part of the LP resurgence but it sure has been great. I guess I’ll have to start asking!

Did you see the cassette resurgence coming? I confess I could never have imagined that as I was glad to stop listening to them.

I will say the cassette resurgence has been pretty small still, overall. Yes. We sell more than we did ten years ago but it is a fraction of a percentage of record sales here. I did see it coming a bit because a former co-worker was one of the folks on the forefront. He made us very aware of their appeal.

What’s your favorite part of your job? What has kept you enjoying coming to work for more than three decades?

Easily my favorite part of the job is the social interaction and connection with customers and co-workers. We have been blessed with so many great people shopping and working here over the years. Music is the common denominator with all of us. The ability to connect on all the other levels has been the real treat of working here for 30-plus years.