The Jman goes forth into the Auckland urban environment to find the best retail outlets for horror fans in the big "A". Showing no fear of the tornadoes, volcanoes, and possibly Twitards in his path the man brings back the good oil on what looks to be a pretty decent selection. First cab off the rank is the awesome sounding Real Groovy. Over to J for the lowdown on this retail outlet, for sure I've got a destination to visit next time I touchdown in Auckland.
So Auckland is like one big country town in the Australian sense, with of course less cool than say Bathurst can summon. There's just a down home feeling to the place that normally would have me wondering where the hell the average dark genre fan is going to score the requirements. Hit the streets Saturday morning around 7am and you could be forgiven for thinking the zombie apocalypse has gone down already. On the bright side there's a few outlets catering to us, though to be honest the resources aren't exactly overwhelming. The City is about a third the size of Sydney so naturally outlets are going to be few on the ground in comparison, though you have to hump your butt all over the Steak and Kidney to hit the stores with decent selections. So Auckland may not have the backstreet retail outlets Sydney or Melbourne can offer, but there's a few surprises waiting the visitor if they get out and about to check the offerings.
The best store I've discovered, not only for dark genre fans but for the wider speculative market, is Real Groovy. If after a movie, a comic, something to read that you aren't going to pick up in a high street bookstore, or something to listen to then you are in the right place. Hell if you want a new tee, then dive on in, awesome selection to choose from. I challenge any reader to walk into Real Groovy and not come away with at least a couple of purchases, and quite probably an hour of their time well spent in store.
Real Groovy can be found at 438 Queen St, down from "K" road and the strip shopping places that seem to be mainly Asian restaurants. You can't miss it, the orange and white livery is pretty hard to not notice, unless you're like an emo or something and look at the ground all the time. For JAFAs, just up from Aotea Square, a couple of blocks at the most. For anyone not from Auckland just ask one of the locals, anyone hanging in the central city should know how to direct you to the store. Yes it's that well known kids.
Once you find the Store and enter, say hello to Aladdin's cave of wonders. Immediately to your right is the Atomic Coffee Roasters, been rocking since 1992 don't you know, where you can get a pretty decent cup of coffee at any time of the day. About the only problem I had there was where did the "roasting" part come in, definitely not happening on site. Anyways, and let's not get bogged down here, there's a couple of clothing emporiums in their own niches for folk who may want something to wear that isn't off the coat hanger down at the Warehouse. I already mentioned the cool collection of tees right? Immediately in front of you are displays of the sort of merchandise that used to appear on the back pages of Seppo comics, you know the neat stuff that makes excellent talking points on your fireplace mantel or that slightly strange gift for your friend or partner who has a sense of humour. While not having a huge collection, you should be able to get your hand on that book or comic you probably haven't run into before, and that's just the front of the store. Out the back, this is one huge barn like open space, are the DVDs, records, and CDs. Think I've covered the offerings, my apologises if I've missed something, check out the store yourself if in doubt. Hey I'm just there for some horror DVDs and the odd CD and book.
Okay so I guess the major requirement for ScaryMs readers is what does Real Groovy have to offer in terms of dark matter. Cut to the back of the store on the left and you will be in quite an extensive horror DVD section comprising both DVD and B-Ray. As opposed to other outlets I could name Real Groovy believes in calling a spade a spade, yes it's labelled "HORROR" so it shouldn't be hard to stumble across. Now what's cool here is that you have a fairly wide choice of titles, both new and pre-owned, including some hard to locate classic titles. The pricing is excellent, the discs are in prime condition, but you may find making a decision on what to get a tough call as at these prices more is better.
Branching out from the horror section, no doubt grasping a few items in your blood splattered paws, you can go apeshit in the music section. All tastes are catered for from the strangest to the mainstream to even classical. The good news here is music is available in either new release, pre-owned, or re-mastered glory. For folks after vinyl, hold onto your linen, Real Groovy is coming at you with a truck load of titles. I'm contemplating moving my stereo over from Oz to take advantage of the wide range of vinyl on offer. The store is real serious about music, so audiophiles are going to feel right at home.
For those after some Kiwiana, Real Groovy have sections in both the DVD and music departments for New Zealand titles. I tend to browse those each time I hit the store, which is a regular once a month occurrence, in case something I really need is lurking. Unfortunately I've been away from the Kiwi music scene for so long I have zero idea on what's good recently, feel free to write in and enlighten me. I'm a rock fan btw, oh and are Split Enz and Hello Sailor still cool?
Overall then Real Groovy is pretty much well worth your time to ink in as a regular haunt, remember to bring your juke box money though. I can guarantee there will be a number of titles you will want to pick up, and at the awesomely good ticketed prices you are not going to have to bust out your piggy bank. I'm a sucker for the cavernous retail outlet with stuff you can't easily score anywhere else, Real Groovy delivered on all fronts for me.
What's really cool is the staff situation the store is going to throw your way. Having a security guard on the front door might seem strange to Aussies, but it seems to be pretty common in Auckland, the place must be overrun with shoplifters I guess. You are not going to be disturbed in your browsing by a couple of dozen sales staff asking if they can help you, pretty much you are going to be left to your own devices. Of course if you do need some help the friendly staff are only too happy to point you in the right direction, I'm calling that a win win situation kids and if you disagree with me then there's a place on the wall of my basement where I need to add a body. Real Groovy has it exactly right in staff numbers, you aren't going to be waiting for what seems like a eon to get served and everything is done in a pretty efficient fashion adding to your above average retail experience.
Pretty much this is my contribution to where to source the hard to find stuff the ScaryM reviews from time to time. If in Auckland then check out Real Groovy for some pretty good titles at a decent price, and bask in an above average retail situation. In fact I'm going to finish this article off pretty quickly and go check out the store again to see what I can find for tonight's entertainment. I'll give my recommendation to Real Groovy, go for the titles and let the friendly staff make it a superb retail experience.
Before dialling I should point out I've managed to purchase seven movies, one comic anthology, and a bunch of presents for people from Real Groovy over the last couple of months. So I'm definitely putting my money where my mouth is here. Catch you down the store, but keep your filthy hands off the titles I might want, word to your mother!
ScaryMinds would like to thank store head honcho Sarah Williamson and Mauri for allowing us to invade their space, take a bunch of photos, and ask a few questions. Hope we didn't interrupt your Saturday morning trade too much. Here's to the next 33 years of Real Groovy going from strength to strength.
Bit of a postscript here as I generally suck, Real Groovy naturally enough has a website, and even better an online store. Set your browser to Real Groovy Online and bask in the glory of the new interwebs shopping that is apparently destorying retail sales in Australia and Malta. I haven't actually used the online store yet, I'm about fifteen minutes away from the physical one so can wander down most days to check out the stock on offering. But in other parts of Godzone or indeed hanging OS, check it out and maybe pick up some titles.