Welcome Mat – Buy Pearl Jam Here

by John Reynolds on May 3, 2010

Pearl Jam Doormat

Pearl Jam Doormat

I’ve never been arrested.  I’ve never shoplifted. A bad case, though, of Pearl Jam fever in a suburban New Jersey music store almost gave me a record – and, no, I don’t mean the vinyl kind.

1991.  I’m a few months past my 20th birthday and a friend and I are home from college and at our regular meetup – Compact Disc World in Totowa, NJ. Back from college, some people played video games, others went to dinner, coffee shops, etc – but my crew of music geeks met where we could discover new music and relish the gems in our collections.

At crappy record stores you would have to ask store personnel what new releases were coming up.  Decent stores would have a messy marker board or sign showing the new releases.  Better stores – like Compact Disc World years ago – had nice workers who would let you look at the for-retailers-eyes-only list of upcoming releases that was faxed to them once a week.  That was “music discovery”. More like “music CSI” actually. As Umlaut says, oh “Kids today they don’t even know“.

My friend and I had already owned Ten since its late August release day. We knew that once we went to the “P” section of the CDs, that there would only be one CD for Pearl Jam.  But we always kept checking because we knew eventually their section would include singles, B-sides, the whole works.

On this particular day, we started walking towards the “P” section and saw this “thing” on the floor, but we weren’t sure what it was. Getting closer, I was like “Hey, that looks like the Stickman” and then my buddy’s like “Dude, that is the Stickman!”

What we found was this black, coarse, thick mat … just a mat! A “Welcome” mat – fixed on the floor, right in front of the “P” section. Across the top was the tattered-letter single-version of the Pearl Jam logo, with Jeff Ament’s signature “Stickman” below, followed by “ten” (note: and for some reason, i just realized that on the CD artwork, “ten” is all lowercase and doesn’t even appear on the front or back cover – it’s only on the spine! Discuss.).

Obnoxiously to the left and right of the Stickman are two arrows pointing “up”, but when laid down on the floor with the top aligned with the CD racks, they pointed right at the “P” section screaming “BUY PEARL JAM HERE” – ahhhhhh, you say … that’s what those arrows meant.

Was this thing a gimmick? With the Epic logo and its official catalog number “D-47857″, yep, it was the real deal. Cheesy, promotional, gimmicky. Whatever,  we wanted it.  My buddy and I were looking at each other saying the same thing without words: How can we get this toy home?

We asked the store owner if anyone had dibs on the mat, and he’s like “yeah, there are a bunch of people that wanted it”, so that was out.  Like Jack Bauer, we started to scan the room looking for exit doors, security cameras and leery personnel. The problem was record stores were like the brightest frickin’ stores in the world and much like the letter “P” is close to the middle of the alphabet, this mat was in the middle of the store.

Almost Two Feet Thick!

Almost Two Feet Thick!

We thought we might be able to hustle it out of the exit door by the classical section (c’mon, is the guy who sells Brahms going to be able to catch me?), but this wasn’t some little collectible – measuring 24″ x 18″ and weighing in at 5 lbs.

Do you think we pulled off this heist? Nah, it was never in the cards.  Pearl Jam fever had hit me hard, but it didn’t send me over the edge to the point where I would have gotten caught and later smiled “cheese” for a picture while holding up a string of numbers down at the station.

This doormat was rare and eventually became a pretty pricey collectible. Sometimes sold for $200, $300, $400, I finally saw one for sale on eBay and eventually paid a grand total of $35 – wOOt! How did I do that? I remember it pretty clearly. I was searching for Soundgarden’s SOMMS EP, and it was a habit of mine to check out “Seller’s Other Auctions” which I did for a certain user.  Listed amongst his other auctions was – “PEARLJAMSUPERRAREPROMOTIONALDOORMATFORTEN”, with starting bid $35.

Yes, the CAPS were creepy, but I saw the needle in this haystack quickly – this item was never going to show up in a search for “Pearl Jam Doormat” because this seller didn’t include any spaces in the title of his auction! I did some searches to prove my theory and I was right! After waiting for five grueling days for the auction to end, I was finally the winner with 1 bid at $35.  YYYYEAHBABY!!

I don’t keep the doormat sealed in an air-tight compartment, but I don’t put it outside of my front door either.  It sits on the floor of my closet next to some shoes and some framed posters that will have a home on a wall someday. Do you have a doormat? Keep it in anywhere interesting? Let us know!

John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.

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