Twenty years of selling records.
It’s incredibly difficult for any business to stay open for 20 years, let alone one in the business of selling music. It was hard enough several years ago when music downloads were the preferred mode for music consumption. Nowadays people hardly even own music, they just stream it.
Yet Stormy Records remains. Husband-and-wife duo Carl Hultgren and Windy Weber first opened their store in Dearborn in 1999 and they’ve remained in the city ever since, albeit in six different storefronts. The current location is at 13306 Michigan Ave. in downtown east Dearborn.
Keeping nimble is one of the ways in which they’ve been able to stay open. Anyone with a collection of vinyl records knows how much of a pain it is to move them. Imagine moving a whole store’s worth. Hultgren and Weber do everything they can to make sure that Stormy Records stays open.
They work hard, pure and simple.
“We keep our personal bills low, we have made sure our leased locations have had affordable rents and then have been careful with how we spent any of the money we made,” Weber says. “When times are slow with foot traffic and in-store shoppers, we have relied heavily on mail orders.
“We work all day, even when we are not in the shop — there is always something that needs to be done for the shop while we are at home or traveling to and from the house to work. It simply is that way every day, and we accepted that long ago.”
That’s not to say that the business is a daily grind; it’s just the opposite, it seems. Hultgren and Weber clearly find joy in what they do. They live and breathe music, selling it but also performing as the ambient duo Windy and Carl. Should they ever retire, Weber says they would focus even more on their own personal art and music projects.
It’s that love of music that fuels them, day in and day out. Weber can recount any number of interactions with customers, delighting in the moments when she can help people find what they’re looking for or discover something new. Like the time she helped a woman find a 45 rpm single that her father had recorded. Or when she helped a 6-year-old boy buy his first LP.
Hultgren and Weber have made countless friends at Stormy. And they’ve hosted concerts from famous musicians right there inside the shop, including ones by Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, and Bonnie Prince Billy.
Hultgren and Weber celebrated 20 years of Stormy Records July 20 with live music from Davin Brainard of PDM and Time Stereo (with special guest The Electric Bear), Harmonic Conversion, and Distorted Earth; store-wide specials; and giveaways.
Twenty years is a reason to celebrate and that’s just what they did.
Staying open “is a testament to how bull-headed we are, how resourceful we are at making things work,” Weber says. “We are surprised in some ways to have made it this long — the industry has changed so much and so many times and riding the wild waves of that change has been truly challenging at times.
“I am proud of us for making it work, and I love that for 20 years we have been helping people find music that makes their lives better. For as much work as it is, Carl and I really love what we do.”
(This story was reprinted from Metromode Media. It also is available at: https://www.secondwavemedia.com/metromode/devnews/StormyRecords20Years.aspx.)