Get To Know Your Local Independent Retailer Vol. 6 – Bull Moose

Bull Moose: A college drinking game where you’re only permitted to drink beer from the left hand. If caught drinking from the right hand and someone yells, “Bull Moose” you are required to finish what is left of your beer.

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Bull Moose: One of New England’s best record outlets and a wholly independent music chain. For this week’s installment of this ground breaking series, we talked to Bull Moose’s Chris Brown about his stores, the future and bull semen.

1. Tell us briefly about your store.
There are ten Bull Moose stores in Maine and New Hampshire.  We try to let each store fit its surroundings, so each Bull Moose has its own vibe and a different selection.  We have a little more metal here, more video games there, etc.  The stores near shopping malls are a little spiffier than the funky downtown stores.  It’s important to let our customers determine what we sell and how the stores look.  Over the years, Bull Moose has grown to include movies, video games and even books.

2. What got you into the independent record store business?
Retail is in my blood – my great-great grandfather had the John Deere dealership in Lyons, KS.  He sold plows, implements and bull semen.  I wanted to own a comic book store when I was ten.  Of course, I was very involved in music, both as a performer and as a collector as a kid.  By the time I was a teenager I wanted to be Keith Emerson or own a triple-story classical music store in Albany, NY.  I applied at a couple of record stores back then and finally was hired at Bull Moose.  I worked there in college and then went off to be a rock star.  I was ready to give up that dream around the time that the owner of Bull Moose asked me to come back.

4. How have things been going from a business perspective?
Very well.  2011 will be Bull Moose’s best year ever.

5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?
Flexibility.

6. What are some of the coolest thing labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?
First, Record Store Day because RSD incorporates everything that ever was cool about a record store, artists and record labels.  Next would be the Live at Bull Moose CD series.  Instores are awesome but usually only 200 people experience them.  It’s wonderful to be able to share quality recordings of in-stores with thousands of people.

7. Why do we need record stores?
We need music stores the same way that we need plumbing.  Pipes and music stores are the best way to get something essential into your home.  A good music store is like a good faucet.  You can have hot water, cold water, or whatever temperature you want.  You decide.
Stores are the best place to buy music because stores are the home of the album.  I’m not talking about LPs, necessarily. I’m talking about 35-60 minutes of music that is supposed to be good all the way through and hopefully move the listener.  Singles are great, but it takes a full album to change your life.

9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?
I’ll limit my answer to artists who released a new CD in 2011 – Graveyard, Tony Brown, The Modern Airline (my sister’s band)