Out of all the businesses I’ve examined so far, I’ve found that Haffa’s Records has one of the more personal relationships with their customers than I’ve seen with others. If not for the large hipster population in Athens, I’m not sure that this place would be able to stay afloat.
I couldn’t tell you the last time I bought a record (LP, EP, CD, etc) and my only friends I know that do buy them are ones that are graduated and have jobs. When you’re in college and have limited funds, you don’t usually make buying music a very high priority, especially when its available so easily for (free?) downloading.
Before I actually attended Ohio University, my father and I would come down to Athens every President’s Day weekend to go camping. He is an alumni of Ohio University so it served a two-fold purpose for us to come here; bonding time and an opportunity for him to tell me the same boring stories over and over again.
I’ve always been a big music fan, to the point where it is a bit of an addiction; I’m that friend you ask for new suggestions…super pretentious. Whenever we would make our way into town, I always had to stop into Schoolkids Music (what we now know as the poster store) and Haffa’s Records (which used to be located in the basement on the building that currently houses it).
This is the Haffa’s I remember oh-so-fondly; the place where I bought Soundgarden’s “Superunknown,” the Beastie Boys “Hello Nasty,” Grateful Dead’s “Workingman’s Dead,” and many others.
I have lots of great memories about buying loads of records every time I came down here, but I don’t think I’ve stepped into the store since I’ve attended this school.
Since Union street begins the ascent into hipster territory, a lot of people aren’t aware that a record store even exists in Athens. Unless you’re a hippie, professor, townie, on a shuffle, or ride a fixed gear, you won’t find your average student heading in that direction. I would think that the folks at Haffa’s would want to try to make themselves more visible by promoting around campus, actually having a website or Twitter account, or even just getting a flashier sign.
These guys aren’t very internet savvy or they just don’t care, but I have to get down to the analysis portion of my blog post. They only have a MySpace and Facebook page and it appears that they only use the latter for promoting their business.
Their Facebook page currently has 854 “likes” and from the looks of it, a lot of the people are non-student, record enthusiasts. Their information section doesn’t offer too much….information; basically, it has their hours, the products the offer (What do record stores sell?), and a link to their Facebook page (on their Facebook page). I find it rather humorous that they say they’re “Athens, Ohio’s, last independent record store,” because they’re Athens only record store.
They don’t make too many posts on their wall except for the occasional musing about a certain song or artist that they happen to be listening to in the store that day. The thing that I do find really endearing is the way that they use Facebook to interact with their fans and respond to their queries. I consider myself to be quite the cognisant of music and a lot of the records people inquire about are nowhere to be found in my archive of a brain.
For instance (via Haffa’s FB page):
- Customer: Can you guys order me a CD copy of Middle Brother’s new album which comes out March 1st?
- Haffa’s: Yes, We’ll save one for you.
- Customer: Awesome thanks guys
….A few days later
- Customer: Is that in for Tusday?
- Haffa’s: It’s here, set behind the counter for you.
That’s a really nice way for a business and their customer base to interact with one another on a very personal level. People are always worrying that computers and social networks are going to be the end of interpersonal skills and pretty soon everyone is going to be a cyborg or something; no way. We just need to find new ways to foster relationships that are supplemented by social networks, much like Haffa’s has done.
So, yeah…they’re not that active on Facebook but it must not be much of a problem for them (as far as business is concerned) because they’ve been open for a pretty long time.
Maybe it’s just me, but logic would dictate that if you had a website other than your Facebook page, you would make some effort to direct traffic from one to the other. Regardless, their Facebook page does not tell you that they have a MySpace but it does come up (2 results) before their Facebook in a Google search.
Their MySpace page has currently has 476 friends, which is considerably less than their Facebook page. This page seems to be devoted more to their personal predilections in regards to music and then showing some support for local acts as well. The other part that puzzles me about their MySpace coming up first in a Google search is that it looks like they haven’t been active on their account in years. Their last blog post is from 2008 and its been 144 days since someone last posted a comment; they should probably deactivate it?
For the purposes of my analysis, they do a really poor job of utilizing social media; on a personal level, I’m almost envious of what they do. If I had been born 20 years earlier, I could see myself owning a record store, albeit in a larger city. I love hearing what music other people listening to, pontificating, and then referring them to something they may not have heard before. I’d be sad to see a day when there are no more record stores, but I know that its almost inevitable. Maybe in 30 years they’ll become kitschy like 50’s Cafes and I can relieve some adolescent memories.