Ralph America is closing its doors on the 15th, after being around for decades. It will be sad to see the last remnants of a great label disappear, but the bands have all moved on in their own ways, so there's not much of a point to stick around.
When I heard about them closing a few weeks ago, I bought a dog tag that had an exclusive download code on it, with the intent of going back closer to the end to get a bunch of shirts at (hopefully) great sale prices. Wouldn't you know, the day after I placed my order, that dog tag went on sale. I was a little upset at this, but I was upset at myself. I should have waited until the weekend to make my purchase, but I didn't. It was not Ralph's fault that I ordered on a weekday, and Mama Ralph (as he -- she? -- calls himself) could not have psychically known that I was going to order that dog tag. So, I just ate the loss, and considered myself lucky to have been able to get in on an exclusive album in the first place.
So, you should imagine my surprise when my order arrived in a very large envelope, and quite a bit heavier than a little tiny dog tag and the documentation of the order. Opening it up, I found a Cube-E booklet along with my dog tag. It was not on the order form, and I'd never asked for it. Mama Ralph just sent it to me. Whether Mama Ralph is sending random things to everybody, or just to those who placed an order the day before their item went on sale, I have no idea. Either way, it more than made up for the $5 I spent "extra" on the dog tag.
Early last week, I decided to go get a whole bunch of t-shirts, since the idea of buying clothing from eBay sort of squicks me and I've no idea when I'll be able to get official threads once RA closes. I picked up about four or five different designs, and can only hope that I got the size right. Since my dog tag arrived so quickly, I've been eagerly checking the mailbox downstairs, hoping to see that package and get my t-shirts. But they seemed to be slow in getting here, which was starting to worry me.
By chance, as I was poking around the website to see if there was any news about anything, I happened to notice that the chatroom was active. Better still, Mama Ralph was in there, as was a band member. They were talking with a few people about some of the last-minute things going on, and about how they almost closed up early on account of a few morons spreading bad press. I use the word "moron" because their problem was similar to the one I seem to be having; their stuff never arrived. Well, it turns out that the guy never actually submitted his order, but this was somehow Ralph's fault. I think that's something we've all done at one point, though. Try to put something through on the internet, and miss that final confirmation click, losing everything.
During the ensuing conversation, I'd mentioned how I was eagerly awaiting my own order, and my problem with eBay, and was immediately informed that t-shirt orders are taking forever, because each shirt is custom-printed, I guess so they don't have boxes and boxes of t-shirts taking up space. Also, it's a crazy small shop, and I can't imagine there's too much of a demand for T-shirts featuring a defaced Beatles album cover.
I went to bed shortly after all this, and when I got up later that night (everyone is nocturnal in Vegas, because if you go outside during the day, you will explode) I found an email from Ralph, telling me that my order had shipped, and as of 7:30 last night, it was in Oakland.
In short, doing business with Ralph America has been nothing but wonderful. Thank you, Ralph, for being awesome and helping me fill up my house with music and DVDs that drive my husband crazy.