It isn’t easy to feel happy when the skies turn grey and a storm is brewing on the horizon. But you can find much happiness within the safe, dry confines of Stormy Records in Dearborn, MI, whose owners Windy & Carl (you might know them from the music they release for Kranky Records), are more than pleased to put a smile in your ears with that one record you didn’t know you were destined to find. That’s why Stormy Records is this week’s Record Store of the Week.
Tell us some stuff about Stormy Records
The shop opened july 23, 1999, and it is run and operated by me (Windy Weber) and my husband – Carl Hultgren. I deal with all the new merch and he deals with all the used merch. I order things, pay the bills, and do the accounting. Carl takes care of all the ebay listings and mail order and the buying and pricing of used LPs and 45s. We probably have 15,000 used LPs and as many used 45s, and then we have 1500 or so new release LPs and CDs, like soul comps, japanese imports, indie rock bands. We do really well with classic rock LPs (Sabbath and Zeppelin), funk and jazz LPs (Fela, Coltrane, Funkadelic, etc.), and hard to find tiny releases, both old and new. Our space is small – the sales floor about 66ft by 18 ft, and we reside in the upstairs of a fantastic comic book shop called Green Brain Comics. Besides carrying an amazing selection and being super cool folks, their generosity has kept Stormy in business the last 4 years. We love green brain.
How many people work for Stormy Records?
Me and Carl, and on Saturdays our friend pete helps out. We are about to have our first ever intern, and she is gonna help us clean the office – where we have as any records as out on the sales floor. two people just cannot process this quantity all alone, and yet we are tight on money – which prohibits us from paying others for more hourly help. It’s tough, but we really love what we do so we make it work.
What kind of folks frequent your store, and what sort of records do they typically buy?
We don’t have a “typical” customer, per se. I think that is fantastic! Our customers range from young teenagers just getting into rock n roll to 85 year old jazz collectors. They span everything in between. We know most of our customers by name and we know if they are married, have kids, what kind of pets they have, what releases they would totally love. we are intertwined with our customers, and it makes them feel special to come in and get such personal service. It makes us feel good that we foster an environment where people can feel comfortable, learn about new music, express their opinions, and be at home. We adore mentoring a whole society of listeners, and of caring for the musical community the way we do.
What’s your favorite record right now?
Right now I am obsessed with Leyland James Kirby’s Sadly the Future is Not What it Was. It is along the same lines as William Basinski and Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works, music I completely adore. I have a problem where I will become overly excited about a band or pieces of music, and then listen to them endlessly and exclusively for chunks of time, often eventually exhausting them and then never listening to them again. It’s a hard habit to break.
What record do you always find yourself listening to in the store?
There are a few – Manuel Gottsching E2 E4, the Soul Jazz Tropicalia comp, any of the Numero Group comps, Nurse with Wound’s Alice The Goon.
Is there a record you play that someone will usually buy/inquire about every time?
What is your favorite Light in the Attic release and why?
Gainsbourg’s Melodie Nelson cd. It’s easy music – it flows so easily and sucks you into it – you are almost forced to listen. It affects people in a whole body manner, and then they have to know what it is. It makes us happy – it makes folks in the shop happy. Easy as pie!
Do you do instore performances? If so, who is your favorite band/artist that has played in your store?
We have had bands play as long as we’ve been open, even when we were in a tiny space that we shared with a barber. We’ve had friends come in and play. We’ve had big names come in and play. Often times young people who shop at our store do not believe us when we say, “oh yeah, Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom played here on their first big USA tour,” or “Will Oldham did an instore here in 2006.” But who was the favorite? For me it would be Jack Rose. That is how we met him – he came to play at our store. then he became our friend, and then we lost him to the great unknown.
We’ve been lucky to have so many amazing people come play – Charalambides, Six Organs of Admittance, Aaron Dilloway, Hearing Trumpet, Princess Dragonmom, Hitoko Saki, White Rainbow. The full list is over 100 long, because we have had so many “festival” nights where 6 or 8 people would play.
What’s the funniest/weirdest/strangest encounter you’ve had with a customer in the store?
Are you kidding me? That would fill an entire book. and I mean an entire book. We have daily encounters with people that result in stories we pass on to others, and share with others. We have often times discussed writing a book to chronicle that stuff, But in what extra time each day? I guess a few would be the guy who took all the Elvis records and sat on a couch with them, pulled each one out and used the vinyl as a mirror to see his reflection in (laughing the whole time); the guy who told his girlfriend he was having flashbacks when we played Comets on Fire. i don’t know, there are far too many to even try to remember!!
What is the coolest/most prized record has come into your store that you never thought you’d ever see?
Some of the Tribe jazz label stuff – records out of Detroit, jazz LPs, still sealed.
What do you love most about working at a cool independent record shop?
Helping people find music that is worth their time. Music is meant to be heard, meant to be listened to. The experience of listening, of hearing those sounds, is a real experience, and helping so many people find the glory of music is so fulfilling. I suppose it could be likened to a preacher leading his flock in church, or a teacher helping kids read for the first time – it is just this incredible place in people’s lives where we get to help them expand their minds and their tastes and knowledge. it’s pretty damn cool – we feel lucky every day to have our store and have this be our livelihood!!
13210 Michigan Ave.
Dearborn, MI 48126