In-store Performances Don't Grow on Trees, You Know.
One of the reasons that in-stores are so cool is that they are hard to get. Every store begs for them - at least every store I've ever worked at or owned - but very few stores actually get them.
A store has to do big sales, have a place for bands to play, and really be able to draw a crowd. You have to be able to handle the logistics, the marketing, and the inevitable customer-created hilarities. Even then, artists are reticent to perform...especially established artists.
I've been lucky enough to be involved in a ton of in-stores for three reasons:
1) The indie chain that I managed (Zia Record Exchange) for three years had eight stores, which provided a plethora of flexibility and different customer bases;
2) The store that I owned (Hoodlums) for fifteen years was located in the one of the busiest locations in the entire country (the ASU Memorial Student Union), and;
3) Hoodlums spent nearly ten years as a member of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS), which placed me in the some of the best stores in the country.
Don't get me wrong, in-stores aren't all good. Sometimes artists and record labels can be a nightmare. But for the most part, a grand majority of my experiences have been enjoyable.
Now, without further rambling, I present my eleven all-time favorites.