3 one-of-a-kind record shops you can only find in Macomb County

Record Store Day is right around the corner and Macomb County record shops are getting ready for the celebration.

The event is typically held at independent record shops on the third Saturday of April (and on Black Friday in November) as a way to bring together vinyl lovers and celebrate the special role record stores play in communities. Each year artists commemorate the day with special releases, while independent record shops honor it with discounts, signings, performances, and other activities. First celebrated in 2008 in the United States, the holiday has since gone worldwide.

While records as a music format experienced a decline in the '80s and '90s, due to the introduction of the compact disc, since the late 2000s they've experienced a resurgence in both popularity and sales (often called the vinyl revival). And the record shop scene is now flourishing. Today there are an estimated 1,400 independent record stores across the United States, including dozens in Southeast Michigan

To help celebrate Record Store Day, which takes place this year on April 22, we're profiling three unique Macomb County record shops.

Melodies and Memories in Eastpointe.Melodies & Memories

Offering a vast collection of vinyl, CDs, cassettes, box sets, and a variety of sports, music and other memorabilia, Melodies & Memories bills itself as a "museum of music history. The store, which recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, is located in Eastpointe at 23013 Gratiot Ave, not far from 9 Mile Road.

A pillar of the local record scene, it was originally opened as a book and music shop in Warren in 1988 by Dan Zieja, a former Detroit Free Press staffer, and his wifeM&M co-owner Dan Zieja. Denise. They eventually dropped the book side of the business, opened a new store in Warren, and later consolidated the business there

Co-owner and manager Amanda Zieja believes the shop has a bit of something for everyone. 

"It is a total menagerie of music," she says. "It's very very eclectic. We have a jazz room, a dance zone, rock, pop. We have a very large country section. And there's quite a bit of rare stuff, [but] you have to do some digging."

In 2018, Melodies and Memories made national news when it sold a rare never-released single of Motown singer Frank Wilson’s “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)” to Jack White, owner of Third Man Records and co-founder of the White Stripes. It was later repressed by White's label and sold as a Record Day release. That same year it also lent out some of its inventory to the Detroit Historical Museum. The shop is also notable for being the current home of the Golden World Clock, which used to hang in the studios of the Detroit-based Golden World record label.

In the past, Melodies and Memories has commemorated Record Store Day with a variety of ways including a J. Dilla-themed event featuring performances by  DJ Butter and Uncle Herm. Stay tuned to their Instagram page for news about discounts and other plans.

Village Vinyl in Warren.Village Vinyl

Village Vinyl has been Warren's go-to record spot since 2017.  The shop can be found at 5972 Chicago Rd., just a short way down the street from Kuhnhenn Brewing.

Owner John Lehl, a member of several well-known punk bands including Negative Approach, Easy Action, and the Meatmen, has been hooked on vinyl since he was a little kid.

"When I was five, I ended up getting a KISS record back in the 70s," he says. "I just acquired so much stuff that I needed to get rid of it, so I started selling it. And I was like 'Hey, I'm on to something!" So I started buying other people's collections, going to record shows and it eventually evolved into a store."

The store carries a little of everything, vinyl, CDs, and cassettes, as well as t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, and other knick-knacks. While all sorts of genres can be found in the store, Village Vinyl specializes in metal, punk, hardcore, indy, and alternative music. It also has sizable selections of soul, jazz, rap, and hip-hop.

Village Vinyl will be celebrating its sixth anniversary on Record Store Day with discounts, exclusives, and a special poster. Check out the shop's Instagram page for details.

Weirdsville Records in Mt. Clemens.Weirdsville Records

If you're looking for books, vinyl, and a touch of eccentricity, Weirdsville Records is definitely the place for you. Located at 61 Macomb Pl. in Mount Clemens, is just a hop skip, and a jump away from other local hotspots like Mae's Diner and Black Cat Coffee.

The shop is owned and operated by Davey Taylor, who's a member of several local bands including the Amino Acids, and his wife Lisa. He estimates the store has between 15,000 to 20,000 records, counting both LPs and 45s. While Weirdsville does stock a small selection of newer artists, most of the inventory is dedicated to established artists from a wide variety of genres. 

"Most of the kids that come in aren't looking into brand new artists," he says. "They're into classic rock -- the Beatles, the Doors, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin,  Pink Floyd — which is something we cater to, but we also have a pretty cool punk collection. And there's a decent sized metal selection [and] I have a lot of soundtracks, surf, garage, and lounge music."

As for the book side of things, the shop carries a little of everything — classics, genre fiction, nonfiction — except textbooks. And the Taylors tend to buy new versions of best sellers from a few years back, so their customers can purchase them at reasonable prices.

Interestingly enough, Weirdsville's origin story is rooted in the book side of its operations. Lisa had worked at a local Borders and wanted to find a new way toWeirdsville Records co-owner Davey Taylor. work with books after the chain went bankrupt in the 2010s. Davey, on the other hand, had a job that involved supplying props for the movie industry, which had started to see a decline in incentives and other support from the State of Michigan around the same time. 

So they opened a small bookshop a few blocks away from their current location and were then offered a chance to buy out the inventory of a Utica-based record store called Rock-A-Billy's. They jumped at the opportunity and later relocated to their current space, which has 2,900 square feet of retail space and a 2,000-square-foot basement for storage. 

If you're wondering about the name Weirdsville, it's inspired by Davey Taylor's prop background, which involved horror movies. Visitors to the shop can check out props like fake body parts and caskets, which furnish the store, along with other curiosities like Victrolas and reel-to-reel equipment. 

In addition to books and music, the Taylors also operate an internet-based radio station out of the shop called Weirdsville Records Radio. Anyone interested in becoming a host can buy a block of time and can record their show right in the store. This year, the shop is planning to celebrate Record Store Day with discounts and performances by the Slot Rods and the Fabulous Hen House Boys, for details visit Weirdsville Records' facebook page

Other Macomb County options

As if that's not enough, vinyl aficionados have two other record shops they can visit in Macomb County. Trax N Wax in St. Clair Shores buys and sells a variety of music (both records and CDs) as well as movies and video games. Media Reload in Utica similarly carries a variety of music, films, and video games, as well as electronics, instruments, comics, and other collectibles. 

All photos by David Lewinski.

This series, made possible with the support of Macomb County, captures the stories of how residents and visitors live, work, and play in the region.
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