When I was 14, there were only three things I wanted to do in life: rock, bang chicks and work in a cool record store. With yesterday's announcement by HMV that they are banning employees from showing tattoos, I am now only able to fulful two of my dreams from so many years ago. A statement from the company reads: "We're not trying to ban tattoos. But if someone does have extensive body art, we expect them to cover this up with their uniform." The company also denies initial reports that said long hair was to be banned as well.
Although the move by HMV may seem surprising, is it really?
Clearly, the fact that HMV is still operating as a business is, in itself, mindboggling - especially considering that they've been quite slow in responding to the rapid decline in CD sales. Sure, they've attemped to restructure and re-brand themselves by selling more video games, DVDs and books. But, at the end of the day, HMV is still predominantly a hard copy music provider (of the CD variety). Regardless, here are my reasons for why HMV's new policy is actually a good move:
- the new policy stirs up a bit of controversy. In turn, this makes for some nice press and ultimately creates free advertising. I mean, when's the last time you walked by an HMV without its neon sign being more than an afterthought? I didn't even really realize HMV was still in business until earlier this year when I read that story about someone posting "Warning. Don't Buy This Album. This Man Beats Women" stickers on Chris Brown albums inside one of it's London, UK stores.
- Though the new policy banning visible tattoos for its employees may seem entirely uncool, HMV isn't and has never been considered a "cool" record store. Cool is being an independent music store that sells bootlegs of rare B-sides by a band you probably won't give a shit about in a year's time. (sidenote: the only reason people like me ever shopped at HMV was that it sold CDs for far cheaper than that "cool" independent record store on the corner). Ultimately, this means the company FINALLY understands what it is and what it isn't - a huge step in the right direction for a successful business (which, it hasn't been for some years).
- The predominant clientele who DO shop at HMV are the ones who find the sight of tattoos uncomfortable, with sub-clientele either old-schoolers who love to feel the physical format of CD, vinyl or DVD in their hands OR people who are generally too lazy to learn how to download music and/or movies for free or too fucking stupid. By all accounts, old schoolers and computer illiterates are a dying breed. Therefore, by making its employees appear more "professional", the company hones in on its core clientele. (To be honest, I'm actually quite tired of having to deal with some 20-something hipster dipshit covered in neck, chest and arm tattoos following me around a store everytime I'm out shopping.) Hence, this goes back to the main point of why HMV's new policy has been implemented: to increase sales.
Don't get me wrong. HMV won't be around in 10 years. But for now, it's doing something right considering that a complete re-brand would cost millions while redrafting employee policy costs about as much as the paper it is written on.