Let It Be Records vs. Target: The blow-by-blow

Categories: Vinyl
Photo courtesy of Ryan Cameron
Cameron: "This was after an autograph session, the first they've ever done, for Pretty Hate Machine."
Last week, we reported that Let It Be Records' Ryan Cameron aired a justifiable grievance with Target. For some reason, a huge local company is holding on to a couple of letters that used to be part of the signage outside his shop for a private "art installation." Never mind that Target could likely set up a letter-making factory with a few well-placed calls.

Cameron made the comment that the history of his now-shuttered Nicollet Avenue store does not belong to Target. Below, we have a few photographs of that history -- including visits by Nine Inch Nails, Patti Smith and more -- and his full story on what has happened in his interactions with the retail chain.

See Also:
Let It Be Records' history isn't Target property, former owner says

Let It Be Records Is Closing
The triumphant return (almost) of Let It Be Records

Ryan Cameron:
Let It Be Records moved to the Nicollet Mall in 1989. I had no way of knowing that the store would survive until 2005 (18 years!). Every day was a new adventure and a struggle, with a whole lot of fun. When I moved there, I got my rickety two-story metal ladder out and glued the letters for the sign to the 2nd floor level front of the building. It wasn't an expensive sign but it was good enough for me.

Photos courtesy of Ryan Cameron
Cameron: "Donovan autograph session after a lunchtime in-store performance (before a show at First Ave.)"
When I closed the store on June 15th, 2005, it was because the block and building were going to be bulldozed to build a huge condo tower. The last day of the store was a huge emotional hug for myself, my co-workers, and the many people that showed up the last day to celebrate the life of the store. When the store closed that night there was a large crowd of people outside, as well as most of the store staff. An impromptu party across the street at the Local took place with well wishers and store staff hanging out. Then...

Someone said to me, 'hey, I'd like to have one of the letters' from the storefront sign. So in my slightly inebriated state, I went inside and got out the rickety 2 story metal ladder that I'd used to put the sign up and in my slightly buzzed state climbed the ladder. With a hammer and a screwdriver I chiseled the glued letters off, one by one, and handed them down. People were taking them as fast as I could pass them down. All I had left to take down was the 'It'. I couldn't reach it safely and it would have meant resting the ladder against a piece of glass so I decided not to risk it. After I got down I realized that I didn't even save a letter for myself. Oh the memories.

Shortly after that, the imminent tear-down of the building did not take place, but the development company put up large awnings across the store front on both sides and the 'It' disappeared. Or so I thought...

Photo courtesy of Ryan Cameron
Fast forward to about three months ago. My wife sends me a photo that shows that the 'It' is back! It was covered up but never taken down! By this time the building had been purchased by the Target Corporation. I wanted my 'It' back. Surely Target, in their usual position of love for the local community would see things my way and return it to me.

So the next time I was downtown I went to the construction site to try to find out who could help me. I flagged down one of the workers who graciously went and got the construction company's project manager. He told me that the 'It' and been brought up in several meetings with Target personnel and they were instructed multiple times that they were not to take the partial sign down. Wow, they'd had meeting discussions about it. Maybe they understood the cultural significance of it all. He also passed on the name and phone number of the Target Corporation project manager.

So, of course I call him and end up leaving a message. He returned my call the next morning and I had a long discussion with him, explaining the origin of the 'It' including the final day impromptu buzzed climb up the rickety ladder to chisel off the letters to the folks below me. He seemed to enjoy the reminiscing and then it came to the part where I asked him why Target Corp. appeared to be so intent on protecting the sign. I got a very evasive answer about how they wanted to insure the building maintained the history of what was there before. So I'm thinking they are either going to leave the letters up or move them somewhere with a nice little plaque that says 'Here lies the ashes of Let It Be Records' or something profound like that.

His response was that he could not divulge company info for reasons he wouldn't explain. He understood my desire to get my 'It' back. He would pass along my request to the other decision makers and get back to me. So I had to ask again "Why do you want those letters, are you going to leave them up?" Oh no, we'll take them down. "But what are you going to do with them?" I can't tell you. My response was "Surely you can understand the sentimental value to myself and Target could of course afford to go out and buy the same two plastic letters and I'd keep the originals. Better yet, I'd pay to get them the replacement letters and we'd swap." All he could say is I'll get back to you.

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