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Batailles de jeunesse

V září 2015 nás v Happyfeetu navštívil Giom Ruffat s projektem Record Stor(i)es. Giom hledá příběhy obchodů s gramodeskami po celém světě, jak se můžete přesvědčit na jeho blogu, který plní příběhy jak v jeho rodné francouzštině, postupně i v angličtině.

Batailles de jeunesse

autor: Giom Ruffat

My advantage is that I’m neither scared of DJs nor of Hi-Fi experts!
Happyfeet Records is not easy to find in this maze that is the beautiful Lucerna passage in Prague. But the place is certainly worth the detour: a tiny shop, lined all the way with black records on each wall, and at the very back, a determined looking young woman sitting behind her desk. A female owner. An important nuance in a world which is almost exclusively male.

What I enjoy most is being able to lock the doors here every day and think to myself: ah, this place is mine.
Because when she arrived from the north of the Czech Republic at the age of 19, Magdalena didn’t think she would have to face so many challenges.

I left everything behind when I came here, out of love for a DJ with whom I had opened my first record store. He had good connections in Prague, so we were able to open the shop quickly, but I soon realised that I was in for less than him in this deal. Three years later, he emotionally replaced me with someone else, and I had to leave. He made an arrangement with the owner of the premises, and the game was over, he claimed that there could no longer be a record store in building. If you go there now, you’ll see there still is a record store…kept by my ex!

Magdalena’s strength can be seen in her eyes. This wound from her youth seems to be what shaped her personality.

Being a woman, especially a young woman, is very hard in this environment. I had to battle to get back up every time. Losing everything you have overnight when you’re 21 is really hard. Then, my second experience with record stores, at Roxy, a very famous club in Prague, helped me make some connections. But ever since I arrived in this city, my dream was to open my own store in this passage. We’re at the heart of culture here.

And moving in here was far from easy.

Five years ago, this part of the gallery was a toilet. They promised they would make the necessary works for a 13 m2 space, it was a really good bargain! Except that after signing a contract at the beginning of the year, nothing happened. I had to open on September 1st and pay my first rent on August 15th, and the toilets were still there!

More shaken than hurt, the works were done in a week and after an express move in, Magdalena made enough money in two weeks to pay her monthly bills.

There I knew I was going to make it and that this place would be successful.

Behind her small desk, three quarters of which are covered by a turntable bearing the store’s logo, our business woman still isn’t done with her scare stories.

This year, I was invited by the TED foundation (Technology, Entertainment and Design) to talk about my career and how it could be inspiring to others. The conference took place at the end of May, but what nobody knew, was that my lease still hadn’t been extended for the following month.

A relatively old French couple comes in, looking for Czech editions of French middle of the road music, a far cry from the shop’s inventory, made up of mostly Anglo-Saxon rock. Regardless, Magdalena answers warmly, directing them to a flea market near the old town, map in hand.

That is also something that all record stores in Prague are missing, and that I wanted to offer with Happyfeet: a human element, an attitude towards customers that isn’t cold, no matter who they are. Whether they are DJs, collectors, or just passers-by with a budget of less than 100 crowns (about 4 Euros, editor’s note). I want to give everyone the same treatment, and that’s what makes me stand out.

A few handmade clocks and watches adorn one of the walls. An original touch of design, but far from a priority.

Everything is Czech-made. Design is more a question of taste than a job. I must be the only record store owner in Prague making a living out of records. They all sell books or films to stay afloat…

As for the music, Magdalena cherishes Petr Novác, a songwriter from Prague whose 1975 concept album, Kraska A Svire, softly accompanies our conversation.
You know, I’m also a DJ. I don’t go to clubs or bars, I work at private events, five to six times per month. It works quite well even though I’ve never really wanted to be a DJ. But those who know me, know that I know what to play.

The wound, quite evidently, has now fully healed.

Kategorie: Gramo, Média