Despite the many eulogies read over its grave, the record store stubbornly continues to be a feature of the local landscape. It's all thanks to a resurgence of interest in vinyl records and a new generation that's fascinated by the tactile qualities of owning a beloved LP or single — and thanks, too, to the enthusiasts who keep these places open. Sure, the herd has thinned over the years, but you can almost be certain that any record store is going to be an independent venture, the kind of small, local business run by an enthusiast. Since this is our College Guide issue and the college-age is rediscovering this groove, we thought it'd be a good time to celebrate a selection of local platter peddlers.
10238 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck;
Mikel Smith's Detroit Threads moved to Hamtramck around 1998, and more than a dozen years later, it's still on, selling a quirky selection of clothes, memorabilia, and around 50,000 records, give or take a few thousand. His store's strong suit is Detroit techno, and draws customers from the world over, especially during Detroit's electronic music festival, when DJs take over the store for live sets.
1459 Bagley, Detroit; 313-300-5654;
Quentin Tarantino shops here. What more reason do you need? They've got the funk, blues, and jazz of legends, at non-hipster prices. They also have a handful of old-school turntables, stereos, and speakers for sale — all you need is the cash and the amp.
Lo & Behold! Records & Books
10022 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck;
Open for a few years now, Richie Wohlfiel's quirky little shop sells old mags, books, art, and clothes, but also stocks plenty of records. Bargain-friendly and willing to trade, Wohlfiel says he would rather sell to locals for less than score big on eBay. And the eclectic stock is rich with older picks, bulked up with new recordings of Wohlfiel's in-store folk blues nights. The shop also hosts live music events that can stretch into the wee hours.
Melodies & Memories
23013 Gratiot Ave., Eastpointe;
A favorite for more than 25 years, Melodies & Memories stocks most genres including the requisite classic rock, jazz, and blues. You'll also find posters by Detroit artist Carl Lundgren and the late Gary Grimshaw. In addition to buying vinyl, CDs, and cassettes, they also purchase music memorabilia from the '50s through the '80s. Head in to check out a massive collection; if Eastpointe is too far a hike, they're happy to ship.
4100 Woodward Ave., Detroit;
Motown, punk rock, blues, jazz, electronic, whatever you're musical interests may be, chances are People's Records is carrying something of interest. Owned by Brad Hales, of local noisy rock band Human Eye, People's has enough 45s and LPs in stock for rampant collectors to spend an entire day thumbing through. Drop by often, though, as Hales and company typically receive fresh stock on a weekly basis.
2610 Carpenter Ave., Hamtramck;
Proprietor Jeffrey Garbus crams in a pretty comprehensive selection of rock, pop and jazz, as well as old show tunes, comedy, spoken word and soundtracks. He's been in the recorded music business for decades, and has now moved his record shop to the northern boundary of Hamtramck, where he specializes in classic vinyl. If you only visited his past locations, the store is now much more organized, with special boxes devoted to rare Detroit singles, and a cadre of all-enthusiast staff that are ready to help you explore that vinyl jones.
13210 Michigan Ave., Dearborn;
Located above Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Stormy specializes in used records, but they also carry a ton of experimental, noise, and avant-jazz. Owners Carl Hultgren and Windy Weber stock complete catalogs of labels like Numero Group, Mississippi Records, and Sublime Frequencies, and every once in a while they host a live show. They also buy used records, but make sure you call before heading over; the buyer isn't always in. They'll only be in this location until Labor Day; after that they're moving (along with Green Brain Comics) to a newer, shinier space just a few blocks down on Michigan Avenue. Pro tip: Call to have a copy of the 1954 Godzilla soundtrack on green vinyl put on hold. They should be getting it in stock any day now.
25 E. Liberty St., #249, Ann Arbor;
Anyone who has spent some time inside Underground Sounds probably knows owner Matt Bradish is a lifer — and by that, we mean the guy loves his job. Carrying a wide variety of indie rock, metal, rock 'n' roll, noise, and more, Bradish makes you feel at home as soon as you walk through his front door. Concerned about running into a snobbish record store owner like Jack Black's character in High Fidelity? Fear not, Bradish doesn't flinch at a single request from incoming customers. If he's not carrying what you want, he'll surely try to find a way to order a copy and keep it on hold. Underground Sounds carries new and used records, CDs, box sets and more. It's worth noting: If you come to the counter with a CD, chances are Bradish will ask if you want it on vinyl — as long as he has it in stock. Really, it might be time to either dust off the old record player or purchase a new one.
512 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak;
Record aficionados Scotty Hagen, Tommy Dorr, and Jeff Bubeck opened this store in 2010 after stumbling on some massive collections of records in storage units. An eye for highly valued collectibles sets this store apart from the rest, and along the walls you'll find original pressings or rare import versions if that sort of thing is your bag. Among the racks are all sorts of treasures, including a stash that previously belonged to J Dilla. The store offers plenty of brand new vinyl, too — featuring a well-stocked section devoted to the latest releases from Jack White's Third Man Records, for example. It's also a great place to shop for Michigan-made music, as the store sells plenty of local indie releases through a consignment program.