As the cold weather breaks and a hint of spring reveals itself, Jeff Hardman notices foot traffic building up around his downtown storefront. A good thing for any business, it's especially good for Hardman--the relatively new business is still building its customer base. He opened State Perceptory in November 2017, just before the winter hit.
sells new and used vinyl records, CDs, cassettes, DVDs, Blu-Rays, books, and more. Hardman even carries VHS tapes. Though the resurgent popularity of vinyl records is well-documented, even Hardman himself is a little surprised by people's interest in older media formats like CDs and VHS tapes. But not everything is available on the Internet, he says, and often certain albums and movies are still only available on the older formats.
Rock. Soul. Electronic. Soundtracks. Horror movies. Art house films. Many genres are represented at State Perceptory, the music and movie racks framed by Hardman's impressive poster collection on the walls and the tin ceiling above.
"A lot of people are in a state of disbelief when they walk in the store. I can see it in their eyes. It's rewarding to see after all the hard work," says Hardman. "We're getting a lot of repeat customers and news of the store is spreading by word-of-mouth, which is the best kind of advertising in a smaller city like Port Huron."
A Port Huron native, Hardman grew up in town and got his first music retail job at the old Full Moon Records in 1977. He left in 1982, with stops in San Francisco, Eastern Europe, and Chicago along the way to moving back to Port Huron a week and a half before opening State Perceptory in November 2017.
It fulfills a longtime dream of Hardman's, who's worked in the music retail business for forty years now. He's managed stores, he's been the buyer, but this is the first time he's opened a place of his own. He calls it a working retirement, but in talking to him, it's obviously still a passion.
"About ten years ago, I thought: Why not do this for yourself? So I started eating peant butter sandwiches and drinking instant coffee and I squirreled away as much money as I could," he says.
He's excited to open State Perceptory in Port Huron, glad to be back in his hometown. Hardman believes the shop fills a cultural gap in the city, one that was very much needed to be filled. There's no reason, he says, that people should have to get in their cars and drive an hour or more to find a record store.
Hardman wants to build up the store so that one day it will be able to have new records in stock on the day of their release Many customers are going "retro" for movies and music.
dates. In the meantime, he'll special order records for customers. And he makes sure that his used products are in pristine condition, he says.
As the store grows, Hardman believes that Port Huron will grow with it. He's anticipating that downtown is on the cusp of a development boom, one highlighted by new businesses, shops, lofts, and more. State Perceptory is just a piece of the puzzle.
"I'm not the boy who cried wolf," says Hardman. "I've heard several times over the years that downtown Port Huron is on its way back and this time it's actually true."
State Perceptory is located at 219 Huron Ave. in downtown Port Huron.
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