Who’s the snobbiest music geek of all?

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By Caitlin Martella

Donning a hot pink sweater, a short jean jacket, a matching pair of jeans and black high-heeled boots, I ventured into Toronto’s most popular music stores to find out exactly how hostile music clerks can be to a ditzy teeny bopper.

Playing the part of a confused Britney Spears fan, I sought answers to a few simple questions: Do you carry the UK/Japanese/Australian/Ductch import CD single of Britney Spears’ Crazy? Are you selling tickets to her concert? Do you have her new album?

Here are the results of my experiment ranked in order from least concerned to most horrified.

Sunrise Records (336 Yonge)

Sunrise is commercial radio music central, so it’s not surprising the sales people didn’t have an unusual reaction to my quest for Britney merchandise. The friendly saleswoman showed me exactly where to look and when I asked about concert tickets, she led me to the counter where I could buy them and get all my Britney-related questions answered.

Second Vinyl (2 McCaul)

I walked into the small, out-of-the-way store and browsed through the used jazz, classical, and reggae CDs and vynil. Not finding what I was looking for, I asked the cashier if he carried anything by Ms.Spears. He was straight to the point and not rude at all. “You should try HMV, it’s just around the corner. We’re a used-music store and don’t really get anything by her in here.”

Soundscapes (572 College)

Surprisingly, the Soundscapes clerk was very helpful. I browsed the trendiest CDs from the United Kingdom and Germany for only a few seconds before the sales clerk asked if I needed help. When I inquired about Britney’s new album and tickets to her show, he paused for a moment, a confused look crossing his face. He said Soundscapes didn’t carry anything like that and if I was looking for more of a pop CD, I should try Sam’s or HMV.

Urban Sound Exchange (542 Yonge)

I began to browse a little in this mostly used CD store before I waltzed over to the front desk. With a smile on my face I asked for the new Britney Spears singles. The young lady, dressed all in black and sporting a tongue ring, seemed a bit puzzled by my request but didn’t try to humour me by looking for the CD. Once again, I was directed to HMV or Sunrise Records.

She Said Boom! (372 College)

I walked into this independent music store and waited to be noticed, which I wasn’t. When I asked about tickets to the Britney Spears concert, the middle-aged salesman tried to keep from laughing. After a moment or two of hesitation, he said, “I’d be surprised if we carried tickets for that show. Why don’t you try HMV?”

Rotate This (620 Queen W.)

Like almost everyone else, the two clerks at Rotate This were ready to serve me right away. As Sloan’s latest album played over the speakers, I asked if they carried imports and they pointed me in the right direction. Realizing I was lost, the clerk asked if I was looking for something specific. The moment I mentioned Britney’s name, the woman’s expression turned a little sour, and her voice dropped to a quiet, condescending whisper: “I think you’re in the wrong store.”

Sam the Record Man (347 Yonge)

I went to the information desk that was plastered in alternative and underground music posters and smiled innocently to catch the attention of the three twenty-something guys who were more than pleased to be of assistance. The one wearing a Radiohead t-shirt perked up first. I asked where they kept the CD singles and he pointed me in the right direction. When he realized I wasn’t finding what I was looking for, he came over to help. When I asked for the Dutch import single of “Lucky,” his eyes widened and with a cheeky grin, showed me where to look and walked away. He went back to the counter and I watched as he and his coworker stared at me and laughed, obviously making comments about what I’m sure was my abhorrent taste in music.

HMV (333 Yonge)

It turns out the store that’s supposed to cater to Britney fans has some of the snobbiest and most bitter sales clerks in the city. I headed to the second floor and waited in line at the counter beside the rock/pop section. After about five minutes, I asked the woman behind the counter for the Japanese or Australian imports of “Crazy.” She said there was an import from Holland. Her co-worker, a man in his early 20s with black hair in a forward bob, a few facial piercings and a dog collar, looked at me in disbelief and said, “You actually want to buy that?” In my ditziest voice, I replied, “Yeah, why not?” He shot me a snarky look, complete with an eye rolling and shoulder shrugging.

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