At first glance, you'd never know Ferndale's Found Sound wasn't a decades-old shop, and is in fact a relative newcomer to metro Detroit's record store eco-system. Nearly every open space on its purple walls is plastered with stickers, vintage band posters, hand-drawn signs, dusty 45s, and various pop-culture memorabilia. In three years, it has vastly expanded its vinyl collection to include band shirts and buttons, a sweet library of books, 'zines, CDs, and (the most recent addition) a beloved "Cinerama" room — a tiny oasis in the back of the store filled with VHS tapes, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs ranging from B movies and rom-coms to avant-garde and foreign titles.
The consciously crowded decor is the proud effort of Found Sound's happy staff, who have admittedly borrowed inspiration from the late Sam's Jams, a quirky Ferndale record store with a cult following that closed its doors in the mid-'90s. It's getting harder to stumble across something cool these days, the pleasure of serendipitous discovery becoming increasingly eclipsed by online streaming and shopping. Mindful of the loss of Sam's Jams, Mays, Record Time, Record Collector (and Kim's Video & Music for those East Coast transplants), Found Sound offers that old-school browsing experience that goes hand in hand with thumbing through vinyl, and deservedly have earned a small, die-hard customer base of their own.
Metro Times sat down with creative founder Raymond Hayosh and staff member Marianna Vermiglio to talk shop.
Metro Times: How did Found Sound come to be?
Ray Hayosh: I worked at Record Time and we were closing. It was the final couple weeks. And this guy who was a regular came in. He was an attorney from Flint and always had this dream to open a record store. He's like, "Oh, I need somebody to run it." And I said, "Oh, well I'm not going to have a job so I can do it!" So he brought me on board.
MT: How much leeway do you have to do stuff?
Hayosh: A lot.
Marianna Vermiglio: Yeah, everything. It's the Wild West. We can do whatever we want.
Hayosh: He's definitely entrusted us pretty much with just letting it be, kind of just letting it grow on its own. It's very organic.
Vermiglio: And it's fun.
MT: How many years has Found Sound been around?
Hayosh: We just had our three-year anniversary! We've all worked at other stores so we all have kind of a background.
Vermiglio: I was at UHF.
Hayosh: I started at Sam Goody, then I worked at Harmony House, then I worked at Best Buy for like, a day. And then I worked at Record Time. And Tower, I worked at Tower Records.
MT: This place has a cool '80s/'90s Empire Records vibe. It's got the crazy movie room, a really strange idiosyncratic layout and seems to sell everything.
Hayosh: Keeping it old school was a conscious effort. People come in all the time and say, "Hey, this reminds me of that Sam's Jams place that was across the street." And that's a pretty big compliment because that was a really influential store in Ferndale.
MT: What is your favorite piece of decor?
Vermiglio: My favorite is the giant California raisin. That's my favorite part of the store. When I first started working here I was like, "How can I get this? Please, where'd you get it?"
Hayosh: And I said, "From my basement."
MT: I guess that's why it's so comforting here.
Vermiglio: You find something to relate to no matter what corner you're looking at in the store.
Ray: It's like Pee-wee's Playhouse.
MT: Did you guys always have the "Cinerama" room?
Hayosh: It used to be a listening room, but we created it because there's no video stores around anymore.
Vermiglio: Yeah, there's not even Thomas Video anymore.
Hayosh: The only places to buy movies are like the big-box stores. And you go there and there's like 15 titles, you know. It's not fun. You can't really look around. When we first opened, my DVD collection was the movie room. And now we have people bring us stuff every day.
MT: And as far as the books and the T-shirts?
Hayosh: I would say that in general, everything's expanded a little more. When we first opened, the books were literally one shelf. Now it's expanded to its own section. Everything's growing! It's filled out a lot more since we first opened.
MT: Favorite record, in your collection, or in general?
Hayosh: I play uncool stuff at home: Billy Joel, Lawrence Welk, Guy Lombardo, and John Philip Sousa. Though I'm usually here listening to music much more than I'm at home.
Vermiglio: Didn't you say you listen to the Carpenters in the shower?
Hayosh: It's a possibility, but I think it was John Philip Sousa. The one record I can think of off the top of my head is this 45 that Marvel Comics did in the mid-'70s featuring Red Sonja. It has this weird black-and-white drawn cover from the comic series and a bunch of pictures on the back. It's really sweet, and I've never seen anything like it before. It's pretty awesome. That's the kind of stuff I collect, the weirdo stuff. The comic book-related stuff, soundtracks, etc.
Vermiglio: Since I started working here, they make fun of me for my classic/Dad rock that I love. Also my obsession with Linda Ronstadt has evolved at a very rapid pace. Linda Ronstadt and Carole King are what I'm into right now. But my favorite summer record is the self-titled Link Wray country album with the side of his face on the cover. I got it for really cheap and now it's like a $40-plus record. So I'm satisfied with that purchase!
MT: What have you guys been playing in the store a lot lately? I heard Big Star when I walked in.
Vermiglio: Our go-to records, at least for everyone here: Black Sabbath Sabotage, Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem, Courtney Barnett — the new stuff...
Hayosh: Double-disc Gordon Lightfoot collections all around.
MT: What goes on behind the counter?
Hayosh: We're constantly making referential jokes about music all day.
Vermiglio: All day. It's a little exhausting — just kidding.
MT: Do you guys have plans for a record store cat? Isn't that like a thing?
Marianna: We talk about it.
Hayosh: We always talk about that. The cat was one of my favorite things about Off the Record.
Vermiglio: We all have cats at home so we talk about bringing our cats to work, but then that evolves into talking about building a loft with a couch and TV and basically just living here.
MT: Favorite customer?
Marianna: Oh, man.
Hayosh: We have a bunch of those.
Vermiglio: One thing I'm getting used to, because I've only been here for seven months, is the colorful cast that comes through the door. It's just never ending. People feel so comfortable coming through the store. It's a meeting place. It really is. Honestly, like this table we're sitting at is rarely empty. There's always someone hanging out. It's fun. The guy who was just at the counter, Stan, he comes in all the time. Jazz guy. Buys only jazz. He's a jazz drummer. But he's also a retired Army pilot. His shirt's always tucked in, and he has this raspy voice because he smokes too much.
MT: The guy with the crew cut who looks like he's from Apocalypse Now?
Vermiglio: Ha yeah! He's a cool character. He always has something goofy to say. He's definitely one of my favorites.
Hayosh: I would say Warren.
Vermiglio: Warren Worthington.
MT: We don't have to name any last names.
Hayosh: Well that's not his real name. He would love it anyway.
Vermiglio: Yeah, he would love it.
Hayosh: It's the name of an X-Men character and I don't know if he knows that. He probably comes in six or seven times a day and just walks in the front and then walks out the back. And one day he just came in with this ascot on and a sport coat and walked up to me at the counter and said, "I'm Warren Worthington the third, hahahaha," and then walked out casually. So now we just call him Warren Worthington.
Vermiglio: He's the best.
Hayosh: Once in a while, he'll buy a dollar video.
MT: Listening station pet peeves?
Hayosh: Definitely opening sealed records.
Vermiglio: When people don't know how to use the turntable and they lift the arm too high and shove the needle down.
MT: Cool in-store performances?
Hayosh: For our one-year anniversary, Andre Williams played.
Vermiglio: Tom Zutaut. He helped sign Motley Crue and Guns N' Roses. He's witnessed a lot, and he just told stories and it was really cool. I love learning about all the behind-the-scenes stories.
MT: What's your take on the record snob cliché? Isn't it kind of understood by the customer as part of the experience?
Hayosh: We're pretty conscious about not being like that at all.
Vermiglio: Yeah, I'm very much against that.
Hayosh: One of our unofficial slogans is "There's no such thing as a guilty pleasure." I mean how can I judge anyone, when I'm in the shower listening to John Philip Sousa?
Found Sound is located at 234 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale. They're open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., except for Sundays when they're open noon to 5 p.m. 248-565-8775. foundsoundvinyl.tumblr.com.