As co-owners Lauren Bruyninga and Brad Hales wrote the check for the security deposit on their new Cass Corridor store, Peoples Records and Collectibles, the smell of smoke filled the room. At that exact moment, the building intended to house their first business (and where they happened to be standing) was on fire.
“I ran out with the pen still in my hand,” a wide-eyed Bruyninga says with a laugh.
Luckily for them, damage to their new digs was restricted to the opposite side of the building and would not impede their plans to open. Instead of a disaster, they got one hell of a good story.
As I walk into the subterranean shop, dubbed “Peoples” by customers, I realize that the layout of the place has been separated into two sections—one part record store, one part resale shop. Hales, the record-slinging half of the duo, greets me.
“Come on in!” he says. Owning his own business has been a longtime goal.
Surprised by the dearth of Detroit record stores, Hales always knew he wanted to bring vinyl back to the city.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but people come from all over the world to buy music that was made in Detroit. I’d like to keep the music circulating in the city a little bit more,” he explains.
His longtime pal Bruyninga makes ends meet as a real estate agent for Renaissance Investment in Detroit, but she agrees that owning a business is the way to go.
“My side hustle has always been scavenging, collecting and selling,” she says.
The barrage of cool old leather coats, vintage furniture, clothes, shoes and purses backs her up.
“We both talked about having our own stores for years, and then one night, we just said ‘Why don’t we open a place together?’” she explains.
Conceived on an August evening, Peoples Records and Collectibles was a reality by October.
Peoples’ existence can be attributed in part to the folks who made a special effort to help out. Building materials, free labor and donations were vital in the opening of the store — elbow grease and ingenuity did the rest.
“It took a week to strip the floor,” says Bruyninga of the now-spotless linoleum.
“We built the windows ourselves,” adds Hales proudly.
The decor is minimalist — pristine LPs from such artists as Bettie Davis, Leadbelly, Roxy Music and the Velvet Underground hang on the wall for ambience.
Unlike the “get in, spend your cash and get out” atmosphere of most music stores, Peoples feels more like a home than a place of business. Couches welcome folks to relax, and the comforting smell of old records and incense permeate the air. It feels lived in. Already, Peoples has become a gathering place for locals.
“Friends will bring some beer by at closing time and we’ll all just hang out,” says Hales.
Try cracking a 40-ouncer at the big-box music store and see what happens.
Peoples Records and Collectibles is located at 615 W. Forest (on the corner of Second Avenue in Detroit). Call 313-831-0864 for information.Eve Doster is the listings editor of Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]