Ten years ago, I remember going to the mall every goddamn weekend. I remember Spencer's Gifts, Journeys, Zumiez and Hot Topic being my regular stops. I mean, who didn't have a skater-pop-punk-emo phase for at least a couple months? Let the nostalgia wash over you and cleanse your jaded, black heart thanks to this Noisey piece looking inside the life of a Hot Topic manager in the mid-2000s.
Zeena Koda first went to Hot Topic when she was 13. Four years later, she started working there. She saw employees come and go, and music taste evolve and shift from harder stuff like The Deftones to "pussy shit" (her words, not mine) like Dashboard Confessional. The staff doesn't sound too different from any other retail gig, to be honest: "musicians, borderline creeps, talented headcases, deceptively sexy drama queens, and pseudo-artistic individuals...drug addicts, a norm and conflicted souls who thought you gave a fuck when their work ethic was in question." Yeah, that's pretty much every retail job ever, where you're paid to babysit people who can't take care of themselves in the name of selling shit like band tees.
But working at the type of place Hot Topic is, things are a little different. No other store really represent music fans quite like it did. From the soundtrack, to the merch, to the employees, everything about Hot Topic was unique. It was where all the weirdos went to shop. For example, Juggalos:
I also gained a random, yet deep respect for Insane Clown Posse's hold on the merch game. True ICP fans often swooped in decked out in Tripp pants, matching bandanas and the ubiquitous hatchet man logo hanging around their necks—real dedication to the Juggalo hustle. That logo is like a bat signal to the few, the proud and the questionable, and fortunately for me, I saw them all.
Hell, even the Degrassi tour came through *Drake voice* the Hot Topic Zeena Koda worked at. It wouldn't be completely off-base to say that Hot Topic forged the path of many a bright individual in the mid-2000s. Never forget where you came from, guys.