On working at the buyback counter: "You're like a bartender sometimes — you're hearing people's problems. 'I don't want to sell these records, but my wife left me and I'm living out of my car.' People are getting rid of their past."
Michael Davis, Poo-Bah
On maintaining his passion for music over the decades: "Widening out is one way to do it. If you only like one kind of music, you'll eventually have heard everything."
Desert island disc: Sun Ra, "Astro-Black" (out of print) — "It's one of those records that's dropped between the chairs, but it's a great example of electronics put together with the big-band thing."
Elvin Estela, Fingerprints
On customers with a big, open question about what they want: "I like the challenge. I like it when they push me. It's good to fine-tune your recommendations to someone's taste so you're not just pushing your taste on anybody."
Desert island disc: The Byrds, "Notorious Byrd Brothers" — "It's just perfect West Coast music, uplifting and with amazing production."
Cliff Davis, Amoeba
On his helping customers: "I tell them the truth; I don't ever lie to sell a record. People will say, 'Thank you for being honest.' And people rarely come back and say, 'That [stank].' "
Desert island disc: Johnny Thunders, "So Alone" — "As a kid, for me, he represented the quintessential rebel, like a gangster who played guitar."
Todd Clifford, Sea Level Records
On life outside the store: "When I'm at a show, people will yell, 'Sea Level guy!' Which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on my mood."
Desert island disc: The Replacements, "Let It Be" — "Apparently another band has a record called 'Let It Be,' but I'll take the Replacements' version, mostly for the song 'Unsatisfied.' "
Bob Say, Freakbeat
On his search for rare vinyl: "I go to most of the record shows around the country, thrift stores, swap meets, garage sales."
Desert island disc: "The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society" — "Amazing songs, a great '60s pop sound, with a bit of the English music hall vibe to it. I like the guitars and the melodies."
Rachael McGovern, Amoeba
On leaving a Wall Street job for her current gig: "Everybody I knew in the corporate world, almost without exception, was miserable."
Desert island disc: Portishead, "Dummy": "The emotion is so raw, there's pain behind it, and beauty. It's haunting."
Julie Remick, Virgin Sunset
On her selling style: "I usually interview the customer as quickly as possible to get a sense of what they're looking for. I try to find which instrument they like to hear."
Desert island disc: John Coltrane, "The Heavyweight Champion" (boxed set) — "Coltrane fits all my spiritual needs — whether I'm in a depressive mood, a vegetative mood, or a romantic mood."
-- Scott Timberg