Pack Central: Music You Can’t Shiv To (Or Rather, With)

//Pack Central: Music You Can’t Shiv To (Or Rather, With)

Pack Central: Music You Can’t Shiv To (Or Rather, With)

Serving Time cassette tape

Update: Those many people coming here looking for info on Pack Central–they finally got in touch and Bob Paris, their head burrito, gives his contact info in the comments.

You know, lots of bloggers and how-to-make-money business people hammer on the niche. Find a niche. Find yourself a good niche and then hunker down. Of course, to find a decent niche, you have to get creative. You don’t want to think too broadly, because if you aim for too broad a niche you end up with…well, this site. But Pack Central out of Los Angeles has found an excellent niche for where to sell music: prisoners. And sadly in this country he’s got a potential customer base of 2.3 million.

And what can he sell to prisoners? Not CDs. Certainly not vinyl. No: cassettes. With the screws removed since they are small and metal and a no-no. But Bob Paris, the owner, has been stockpiling cassettes for about five years. His sales hit about $1 million a year.


I love this quote:

“I have dodged every conventional bullet that has hit most music retailers,” Paris says. “I don’t have to worry about downloading, legal or illegally. The beauty of it is that prisoners don’t have Internet access and never will.”

Although if you think about it, some of those people might be in prison for “stealing music.” And if that’s the case, talk about terrible irony if you go from providing pristine digital bootleg copies of songs to the world to having to mail order cassette tapes. Sounds like the sort of hell the RIAA would like to see all of us burn in, you know?

Anyway, so there you go: what do you do already that you can provide to an audience or customer base that you’ve overlooked? We tried to do performance art and spoken word poetry for eels. But that was not exactly lucrative. May your brainstorming be better. And, you know, actually utilize a brain.

Also: they also list their top-selling tapes in the original article. For some odd reason, “Folsom Prison Blues” does not appear. And here’s another thought that strikes me–and it’s probably done the same to you–that big shoebox of tapes that you have tucked away on the top shelf of a closet…I wonder if Pack Central’s buying? Perhaps by the pound…

Found via Freakonomics. Image.

By | 2017-09-24T23:15:21+00:00 July 27th, 2008|Stimuli|46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. Lilian Sapucahy August 1, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Im reading from Brasil. There’s no a website or a e-mail for Pack Central ou Bob Paris? I would like send him some new songs to sale!

  2. Widge August 1, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    You are more than welcome, our friend from Brasil. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to get in touch with Pack Central, because believe me, I’ve got some tapes I could unload as well…

  3. Mark Matthews January 31, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    I am looking for the tape by Skid Row called Slave to the Grind to send to my friend in prison in Illinois, it can’t have any screws in it. Please respond either way if u have or not. Thanks a lot.

  4. meticulous February 19, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Pack Central doesn’t exist anymore, you call the number and it is busy, they must have gone out of business…..

  5. Widge February 19, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Thanks for the info, meticulous. If that’s the case, then I’m sure somebody somewhere will start providing that service. Based on the interest this post has generated, it appears people need something like this.

  6. pearl hennessy May 5, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    can i order tapes on line to be sent to prisoners

  7. Widge May 6, 2009 at 3:47 am

    Pearl: That’s a good question…it appears that there’s some demand for this service, but people have been saying that Pack Central might be no more. So I’m sure somebody will fill the gap at some point.

  8. lori June 6, 2009 at 10:12 am

    please let me know are the cassette available without screws i was told pack central but are they actually no more? If pack central is gone any other site that you can send me to?

  9. Widge June 6, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    Lori: I don’t know of another site/service that does this, but I hope if somebody runs across one, they’ll post it in the comments here so everybody will know.

  10. Andrea Hall July 14, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    I need to check on status of cassettes I sent my husband. what information do I need? I sent a money order with a order form.

  11. Widge July 14, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Andrea: If you utilized the Pack Central service, I would say you need to contact them–as we are not them.

  12. teddy bryan September 10, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Do you have a catalog I can order

  13. Widge September 11, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Teddy: Needcoffee.com has no catalog but I do need to post an updated Zazzle list o’ stuff that is orderable. If you mean Pack Central, then that’s not us and I wouldn’t be able to help you there. Sorry, chief.

  14. Michael Dvorak February 6, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Wondering where CeeLo LOve Machine CD is at. Ordered on 12-22-09. Price of money order 14.99

  15. Widge February 7, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Michael: If you ordered that from Pack Central you would need to contact them, I’m afraid.

  16. MARY February 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    OK THIS IS CRAZY MY BOY HAS GIVEN ME TWO PLACES TO GET MUSIC FOR HIM BUT I’V TRIED BOTH AND HAD NO LUCK FIRST HE GAVE ME THIS ONE PACK CENTRAL THEN HE GAVE ME MO MUSIC ENT BUT I HAVENT HAD ANY LUCK IF ANYONE KNOWS OF A WEBSITE OR AND PALCE I CAN GET HIM SOME MUSIC PLS LET ME KNOW THANKS A BUNCH

  17. jerome watson February 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    how cme pack central don’t server nobody but prisoners?

  18. crystal February 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    can i order tapes online for my son

  19. Widge February 28, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Crystal: If you mean from Pack Central, I’m not aware of them having a website. If anyone finds one, please let us know here. Thanks.

  20. julie March 21, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    i was told to contact pack cenreal go to; info@packcentral.com. I tried many X’s but can not get through. when you call, you just get a recording to use e-mail address. but it doesn’t work. please help, i have an inmate that wants some music

  21. julie March 24, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    just an update. the add. is info@packcentral. just sent another order for my son. they are still in business and going strong!!

  22. hali July 12, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    My boyfriend told me about the paccentral.com but i cannot find it and when i go to info.packcentral.com it gave me nuttin. Does anyone know what i am to do?? He would really like some tapes. Thanks

  23. cynthia September 17, 2010 at 1:41 am

    I’m looking for paccentral too. but has anyone heard of rapbay.com and 8trax they sell and send catalogs to inmates my friend did recieve and order cassette tapes but they didn’t have what he wanted. so paccentral was given to me. I have not been succesful

  24. Jessica October 18, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    I’m trying to see if anyone has any info on how to order tapes for inmates. My husband is n Pinckneyville, IL. and was told about Mo Music Ent but I’ve had no luck with a phone number or website. PLEASE HELP

  25. Widge October 19, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Jessica: I’m sorry…we have been trying to contact Pack Central because we were interested in an interview but no luck. I would welcome anyone with any information about where they can get this service to post info here. Useful info only, though. Please no blatant spam.

  26. Edward Charles Patterson March 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I use to do lots of business with pack centeral in the past located in Ca USA. however I have lost my catalog and even your address is it possible for you to send me a copy of your latest catalog if not then atleast your address to Edward Patterson 505 9th avenue south Clinton Iowa 52732

  27. nicky green April 10, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    i would like to see a catalog for music casset tapes please….

  28. Widge April 10, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Nicky: So we would we, actually.

  29. dot September 5, 2011 at 10:36 am

    The problem with this company is that they have limited themselves by not being able to be contacted. A website with a minimum of an ordering process or downloadable order form would increase sales. Loved ones do have internet access….

  30. dot September 5, 2011 at 10:43 am

    a blank order form will do you no good without the catalog. You have to write them and send them the $2 then they’ll send the catalog wherever you want and they have more than cassettes. The address is [[REMOVED]]. By the way, I’m working on getting my own business set up – I’ll post to Prison Talk when I’m up and running. My selection will be better and customer service will exist. I will also have a website that you can order with credit cards or paypay….

  31. Widge September 5, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Dot: Thanks for the comments…the only reason I removed the address is because that could be anybody’s address. You are correct in that it would be best if they had an online presence. Just because they’re selling 20th Century technology doesn’t mean they need to run their business like it was still the 20th Century. However it’s obvious that a service like this is needed.

  32. milagras September 7, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    YOU SAY YOUR NOT THEM. BUT YOU SURE HAVE ALOTS OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE COMPANY. THE EMAIL GO TO YOU. YOU NEED TO STAND BY YOUR TAPES. THE PERSONS THAT ARE IN PRISONERS LOTS OF THEM HAVE NO JOBS AND HAVE NO ONE. AND THOSE THAT HAVE FAMILY SEND THEM ALITTLE OF MONEY MAYBE IT CAME FROM CHILDREN, WIFES, MOTHERS,FATHERS,SISTERS,AND BROTHERS THAT WORK VERY HARD AND ARE ABLE TO SEND A LITTLE MONEY TO THERE LOVE ONE. AND THE PRISONERS BUY TAPES FROM A COMPANY THAT THEY THING ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE THEM FOR A RIDE. MY SON BROUGHT TAPES FROM YOU. HE PAY FOR RIHANNA GIRL LIKE AND HE GOT ABBA ONE’S THE WRONG TAPE, ALSO SEND FOR EMINEN CURTAIN CALL $14.99 AND THE COVER WAS NOT ON IT, DON’T KNOW WHAT MUSIC WAS ON THE TAPES AND HE PAY TO GET THE SCREWS REMOVED TOTAL $42.96 HELP WOULD BE NICE.

  33. Widge September 8, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Milagras: I understand you are confused and frustrated but please read the following.

    1) We actually have very little information about the company. I tried getting in contact with them to do an interview because the subject was fascinating to me and could not locate them.
    2) You are commenting on a post that was written in 2008.
    3) If just having lots of information about a company makes me the company, then that means I’m also at least two comic book companies, several major movie studios, probably a couple of publishers, at least one audiobook company as well as ThinkGeek. Which would be awesome if it were true. Alas, it is not.
    4) This website does not sell tapes. Never has. Sorry.
    5) We get no emails meant for Pack Central. In fact, I can tell you honestly we’ve never gotten a single email even talking about Pack Central except from the person I asked to try to find them and it basically consisted of “Sorry, I can’t find them.”
    6) It sounds like your son is in prison. I am sorry if that is indeed the case. However, your son did not, in fact, buy tapes from us. I defy you to show me a legitimate receipt where he bought tapes from either One Tusk Industries LLC or Need Coffee Dot Com.
    7) We are not Pack Central because if we were, we sure as hell would have a better online presence where people could buy from us, because based on the traffic we’ve gotten on this post a lot of people are looking for them. That’s why I applauded the last commenter who’s going into this business because somebody needs to do it and do it online. We are a pop culture website. If we are Pack Central hiding behind the facade of a pop culture website, it is the most elaborate online facade in existence, as we’ve been working on this disguise for 13 years.

    8. We do not owe you $42.96.

    I am sorry you are having problems with Pack Central. We are not they. I suggest you locate them and take up your issue with them. Best of luck and thanks for the comment.

  34. Robin October 20, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Pack Central is still doing business. They migrated to a larger warehouse, therefore, their address changed. The new address is:PACK CENTRAL INC
    10115 Canoga Avenue – Unit D Chatsworth, CA 91311
    I do not have web information at this time, however, I will post should it come available. In the meantime, Illinois Prison Talk has a “Q & A” section on their site from Bob Paris, founder of Pack Central. http://www.illinoisprisontalk.com/index.php?topic=12309.20;wap2
    Best to all!

  35. Widge October 24, 2011 at 5:34 am

    Hi Robin: Thanks for your comment…it’s very helpful as many people seem to come here looking for info on Pack Central and/or thinking we’re them for some reason. You had a second comment with email info and a FAX number which I have not posted yet…I have emailed the address asking for confirmation. It’s just our policy not to run email addresses without getting consent from the owner of the email address–to avoid spam and abuse, you understand. Anyway, thank you again…I will urge anyone to follow Robin’s link there for more info and to contact Pack Central at that street address.

  36. Treasure March 27, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Hi. I ordered music cassette tapes formy husband without any screws from this company called Lock Down Music. you can check out their website http://www.lockdownmusic.ecrater.com or give them a call so they can e-mail you their up dated catalog 347-871-7837 If you dont see the album you want in their catalog or website. They can get it for you. How cool is that?

  37. Ckippy Washington April 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I have one of the most awesome collections of jazz and 70’s soul ALL of which I ordered from Pack Central while locked down in Michigan 1976—1990. Pack Central was awesome—it would be ashame if they are no longer in business?

  38. Darlene Pasko May 31, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Please forward a music/video catalog to:
    [REDACTED]

  39. Widge May 31, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Darlene: We are not Pack Central and have no music/video catalog. I have removed your address from your comment and don’t recommend placing it into blog comments–unless you enjoy junk mail. Best of luck in finding what you’re looking for.

  40. Robert Paris August 17, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Pack Central is about to celebrate its 32nd anniversary on August 22, 2012. Our mailing address is P.O. Box 8448, Van Nuys CA 91409-8448.
    Catalog costs $2.00 and we still have the largest selection of cassettes in the world and also offer CD’s. Bob Paris, founder

  41. Robert Paris August 17, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Our email address is info@packcentral.com

  42. geniver December 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I need a catlog sent to my son in Vienna Corr Center. In Vienna Il, do you service in that facility. if so what do i have to do so he can start receiving cassettes from you

  43. Widge December 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Considering we are not, in fact, Pack Central, I can only say…no. Please contact them directly using the info on that page.

  44. Tammy October 31, 2013 at 1:46 am

    There is this company called Cassettes 4 U they ship to all facilities that allows cassette tapes. check it out http://www.cassettesforyou.com

  45. shawn lawson January 28, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    hey my name shawn lawson i hawve not gotten my cds yet

  46. Widge January 30, 2015 at 3:05 am

    Hi Shawn. Sorry, we’re not Pack Central. We just wrote an article about them. So we would be unable to help you with your CDs. Good luck!

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