Image used under a Creative Commons license courtesy of g55.
So, growing up in the Boston area produces an almost-inevitable odd mixture of emotion about the area’s dominant record chain, Newbury Comics. The selection of both music and DVDs is uniformly great: it’s terrific to be a teenager and be able to afford used stuff from the Criterion Collection. But the stores are also chock-freakin’-full of Hot-Topic-esque junk, ranging from Family Guy merch to slightly-more-acceptable Nightmare Before Christmas stuff. It’s motley, and super-commercial, and weirdly out of keeping with the store’s comprehensive, wide-ranging, and intelligently curated arts offerings. I always felt a little weird shopping there, as if someone would mistake me for the kind of person who badly needs a Peter Griffin collectible figure. But Paste’s anointment of Newbury Comics as “The Most Likely Spot to Find Your Boxing Nun, Motörhead T-Shirt, and Sheila Divine Exclusive Under One Roof,” rang both likable and true to me. If we have discretionary income as teenagers, we’re all going to buy some stupid stuff along the way. Newbury Comics gave you the hookup for all that stuff, while also making sure there was great music and film around for you to stumble into along the way. And working in media, it’s struck me that Newbury Comics operates like a company like Conde Nast, where the consumer magazine support the New Yorker. All those Boxing Nun sales create a profit margin that allows Newbury Comics to keep around some slow-moving inventory until some dedicated listener is delighted to stumble upon it. And that’s a great thing.