by Jill Andrew
Young entrepreneurs find groove in their music chain
These music trade innovators are pros at turning someone's trash into another
Many CDs ago, friends Shameer Esmail, Aziz Walji and Hussein Musa
knew a punch-in, punch-out kind of job wasn't for them. Sporting University of
Waterloo math and engineering degrees and a love of music, the put their
collective genius to the ultimate test and began Deja Vu Discs.
Skipping a few tracks to the present, these three young
entrepreneurs in just an eight-year period have gone from a small Oshawa store
to an eight-store corporate chain with locations also in North York, Pickering,
Richmond Hill, Ajax, Scarborough, and Markham.
For Walji, the business involves more than sales. "Money talks for any
business. However it's also about making that money where your customers are."
With genres ranging from rock and roll to R&B and everything
in between, Deja Vu Discs caters to every customer - even ones with the
hard-to-find import requests.
A high-tech, software scanning system developed by the
entrepreneurs keeps the prices fair and square. "You can't buy the scanner on
the shelves," says Walji. "It scans the item barcode (used or otherwise) and
pays you according to the barcode reading of supply/demand trends for the
All you need are your CDs, DVDs or games case and photo ID, and
the trio say they pay you top dollar without guess work or bartering.
Deja Vu Discs also has a 30-day guarantee of "risk-free buying" -
something they say their competitors don't have. Items are checked for defects
and shipped for restoring if necessary before being sold.
"Customers supply the goods, customers buy the goods - it's a full
circle," Walji says. "It's always to our advantage to make our customers
Happiness includes hiring staff members who are music fans.
Scarborough location's Matthew Flook, pianist/vocalist of the Matthew Flook Pop
Orchestra is no exception. "We relate to our staff, treat them fairly and bank
on their connection with customers," says Musa.
Becoming an entrepreneur takes work, says Musa. "It is essential
to have realistic goals, a detailed business plan, and strong finances.
Business plans are not always followed - disagreements will happen. The bank is
not your only option for financing. Flexibility is key. you need to utilize
government plans and family/friends if possible - especially for younger,
greener entrepreneurs. As for surviving the first few years, keep all costs as
low as possible. Hard time will roll around but giving up is not an option
For more details visit dejavudiscs.com
Publication: Metro Toronto; Date: 2003 Dec 02