How I got the idea

idea imageMy passion has always been music. So when the opportunity arose in 1973, I opened my first record store in Woodland, California. Just like most small businesses, I struggled for the first few years. I worried about cash flow, having the right inventory, and hiring good people. Not only did I own the store, I was also the bookkeeper, maintenance man, and janitor. Just like most small businesses, I did everything I was capable of doing myself.

After about three years the store was doing nicely. I had a few employees and I was making enough money to pay overhead and myself a modest salary. But I realized that to be able to buy a nice house, provide a good living for my family, and send my kids to college, I needed – at some point – to move beyond a single record store.

Always looking for an opportunity and some extra cash, I decided to sell some of my own record collection that I didn’t listen to anymore. To my surprise, these albums flew off the shelves. That sparked the idea of selling used records as a regular part of my inventory. I offered a 100 percent guarantee on the used LPs. At that time, you couldn’t return new records once the package was opened. But since used records were already opened, if you didn’t like it, you could return it for something else. My customers really liked that guarantee.

Woodland is 10 miles from Davis where the University of California has a large campus. I started to notice that students from UC Davis were coming to Woodland to purchase used records. No record stores in Northern California were selling used records at the time. With those two factors I got the idea – or impulse – to open a second record store in Davis.

My next blog will talk about the steps I went through to flush out the idea.

–Barney Cohen

President, Business 360 Northwest




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