Newbury Comics stands as one of the few tolerable record stores in all of New England. Given my choices of the various large chains like Tower, HMV, Virgin, Sam Goody, and small, independent record stores where employees look at me with a disaffected stare and laugh amongst themselves because I'm buying a Cranberries album instead of some overhyped indie crap like Cat Power, I'll stick with the middle man.

Newbury Comics is a small chain, which affords them perhaps the best mix of personality and customer service. If they don't have Hooverphonic's "A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular", they can call their other stores and get it the next day (and call you when it's in). Indie stores can't do that.

And sure, the large chains can order stuff next day, but do they actually know who Hooverphonic is? Would they ask if I'd heard Olive or Morcheeba? Do they recognize me when I come in? I don't think so. Yeah, mall punks shop there (well, at least at the mall locations), but I get a more personal response from the people at Newbury than I do at indie record stores where I'm looked down upon for not buying vinyl and not listening to the underground sound that's "cool".

As for your complaint about punk rock... well, if anything, Newbury helps your beloved punk rock. Yeah, helps it. When some middle-class suburban kids come in looking for new music, they just might happen upon some CDs that the megastores don't carry (oh yes, Newbury Comics is big on local acts). But then, you'd probably have some middle-class suburban kids listening to the same personal and meaningful punk rock that you listen to. We couldn't have that, could we?

I guess I don't know any better.

mkb wishes it to be known that the indie store near URI ordered records next-day for him all the time, but they closed last year.

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