MACKENZIE MERCER (worked the floor and counter for two years) What was the best thing about working there? Being surrounded by people as obsessive about music as yourself. I definitely miss being as up to date on new releases, I have to do more leg work nowadays. Meeting and working with Troy Nelson was a game-changer and highlight for sure. The seeds that would become the Young Evils were plotted and planted behind that counter for some time before we actually got our act together. Had I not worked there, who knows if we'd have met at all! Prior to working at Easy Street, like many of my coworkers, I'm sure, I spent all my time trapped in my room with headphones on, dying to talk to someone else about the records I was currently obsessing over. There’s nothing quite like getting to go to work and do that all day.
What was the best in-store performance you saw at Easy Street QA? I feel like I have a lot of favorite in-stores because I was a fan of the artist or band, but my fondest memory of an in-store I worked was Record Store Day 2009. We had performances all day from the Moondoggies, Dex Romweber Duo, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Sweet Water. Sweet Water closed out the night and I remember the place was packed. Matt [Vaughan, Easy Street owner] was running around getting ready for them to start and he ran up to me behind the counter urgently inquiring what rock albums were closest at hand. I named off a few and when I landed on the KISS platinum collection he shouted, "Perfect!" He threw on the record, blasting “Strutter” almost as loud as the store sound system would go. I was then given strict instructions to watch for him at the back of the store and begin slowly fading the song down as he began slowly raising the garage door up to reveal the band who would already be playing their first song before the audience could fully see them. I had never even heard Sweet Water before and it was fucking epic. Matt spent the rest of their set moving throughout the crowd, rocking out with everyone, and passing out beers from the fully stocked cooler tucked under his arm. In that moment I felt like I was really part of something special. It wasn't just about selling the records, stocking racks, and ringing people up. It was about creating those kind of magic moments. Right then I realized that Matt’s passion and goal with the store was always about the experience. He wanted our customers to leave there feeling that childlike wonder. To feel like we were all 16 years old again and had just seen our favorite band play at a sold-out arena. He made that happen all the time. Getting to be apart of those in-stores is probably what I will miss the most.
Craziest or strangest customer encounter? One time I had a woman come in and ask me to show her to the Elliott Smith section. I gladly walked her over and asked if there was a specific record she was looking for. That’s when shit got weird. She went on to explain to me that she was the estranged sister of Elliott's girlfriend at the time of his death. She wanted to look inside all of his albums to find a mailing address to contact anyone who used to work with him to see if they could get her in touch with her sister. I informed her that without purchasing the albums she couldn't just unwrap all of them and start looking through the liner notes for addresses. She began to cry her eyes out and go into this whole diatribe about how Elliott was more family to her than anyone else she'd ever known and about how his long battle with cancer which ultimately led to his death (WTF?) had really torn her and her sister apart. I quickly plotted my exit, wished her luck, and snuck away.
How do you feel about the store closing? Right now it’s hard for me to believe it’s real. I honestly can't imagine driving in to lower Queen Anne and not seeing that big sign in the parking lot spinning around. Not seeing Glenn's huge murals on the side of that building. Not being able to stumble in after one too many drinks at Solo to drunkenly buy that record I already have a copy of at home. Not being able to pop in the back room to use the bathroom because I was in the neighborhood and I had to go.
There’s nothing quite like the relationships I formed there and the impact it had on the person I am today. It will most likely be the only job where I cried when I punched my time card for the last time (what a sissy). We all know record stores are a dying breed. So many cities have had to say goodbye to some amazing stores run by some amazing people. Easy Street West Seattle will go on, but it should absolutely be another reminder for us all to shop local, support our independent record stores, and show them some love for all the love they bring to us.