When Record Store Day (RSD) rolls around each year, many local shops anticipate their biggest sales day of the year. The annual wax-centric holiday (which takes place this year on Saturday, April 13) promises limited-edition titles, first-time vinyl issues, special RSD-only selections and plenty of rare treats for shoppers at independent brick-and-mortar shops. And in the case of La Mesa's Re-Animated Records, it's already turning out to be even bigger than expected.
On Friday, March 15, San Diego-based Mulligan Funding presented the neon-green-clad shop's owner/operators, Lynn and Nicholas Friesen, with its quarterly "Putting the Customer First Award" -- which comes with a very handy cash prize of $2,000. However, as should be customary anytime a stranger calls you up and claims you've won a sizable amount of money, the Friesens were admittedly skeptical when they were contacted. After all, what exactly is Mulligan Funding and why are they handing out money willy nilly?
Turns out, it's all very much legitimate. An alternative lender, Mulligan Funding Marketing Specialist Carly Matsumoto explained to SoundDiego that the company was "established in 2008 in response to banks pulling back from the small and medium-sized lending market -- just when businesses needed working capital more than ever to survive and grow. Mulligan Funding is a private, family-owned business allowing it the flexibility to design and offer funding options that are custom-tailored to its clientele."
And their Putting the Customer First Award? It's an in-house operation driven by Mulligan's penchant for rewarding businesses that provide their customers with above-and-beyond service. All 50-plus Mulligan Funding employees are asked to nominate their favorite local businesses, and after research is done on each nominee, a winner is chosen. In January, the inaugural award went to Carlsbad's Prager Bros. Artisan Bread.
Matsumoto stated that they fully expect and understand why recipients are leery when first contacted about it.
"By nature of the contest, the winning business has no idea what's going on -- a lending company is calling to tell them they won a contest they never entered and wants to give them a cash prize of $2,000. In the world we live in, it couldn't seem more like a scam," she said. "When we called Prager Bros. to inform them of their victory, my colleague literally had to yell over the owner as he counted to 10 (we'd asked for 10 seconds of his time after he'd asked us to take him off our 'list'), it was quite intense. I'm happy to say that when we called Nic [Friesen], he couldn't have been more pleasant -- although skeptical, he was gracious and took the time to listen."
"I was real close to hanging up on 'em, because it sounded like a scam," Nic told SoundDiego. "But I called the other business they had previously awarded and they said it was legit. I did some research, had my dad look into it -- it checked out," he said laughing.
For those of us that have frequented Re-Animated Records, the literal mom-and-pop record shop situated right smack in the middle of La Mesa Village (8320 La Mesa Blvd.), the Friesens are more than just the folks ringing up customers and stocking records, movies, tapes, books and/or various horror-themed collectibles -- they're personable, approachable and make the record-shopping experience truly enjoyable. They're also known for supporting businesses and the community around them, often offering discounts to shoppers who present receipts from other Village shops. Their legion of loyal customers, after only two years, is a testament to everything they're doing right.
"The people are the best thing about this job," Lynn Friesen said. "Visiting with friends and making new ones. There’s nothing not to love."
Of course, with RSD fast approaching on April 13, the $2,000 prize couldn't have come at a better time -- Re-Animated is using it to help stock up on inventory for their biggest shopping day of the year. Congratulations to the Friesens and hats off to the folks at Mulligan Funding for rewarding local businesses.
And, hey, if you're a local business owner and you get a call from somebody about winning a "Putting the Customer First Award" -- maybe hear 'em out.
Dustin Lothspeich is a San Diego Music Award-winning musician, Senior Associate Editor at NBC SoundDiego since 2013, talent buyer at The Merrow, and founder of the music equipment-worshipping blog Gear and Loathing in San Diego. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.