After 27 years in business, Record Time, one of Detroit's most well-loved record shops, will close for good next month.
"The writing has been on the wall for a while," owner and founder Mike Himes said on Tuesday. "We were sinking fast, I knew it was time put the white flag up and call it a day."
The shop has long been a centerpiece of Detroit's music scene. It opened its doors in 1983, and has sold CDs and vinyl from a variety of locations since then, settling into its current Roseville spot in 1996. Over the years, it became a Detroit landmark for traveling musicians, from DJs in town for Movement (or DEMF), to celebrities like Dave Grohl and Ol' Dirty Bastard. It was a hub for local musicians too: according to Himes, an adolescent Eminem used to stalk the aisles, taunting customers with his freestyle raps (some years he later, drew more than 700 people to the shop for an in-store performance).
But the thing that gave Record Time its global reputation was electronic music, which Himes kept cordoned off in the now legendary "dance room." He first heard techno in the early '90s, but didn't realize how much of it was being made in his neighborhood. He contacted a few labels to find out where he could get more, and soon artists were bringing their records to the shop personally. Before long the dance room was like a club house for Detroit's house and techno community, not least in the staff itself; Himes counts Mike Huckaby, Rick Wilhite, Magda, Claude Young, Rick Wade and Dan Bell among his former employees ("I'm probably forgetting some").
"The best years were probably 1990 to 2000," he says. "That's when everything was happening. The dance room was so huge and influential, we had Record Time distribution going, selling Detroit electronic music universally, throughout the world, it was just crazy. Such a special time because we had a relationship with the people producing that music, and putting it out. It was fun, the golden years in my eyes, just being part of that."
Himes admits Record Time has unusually high overhead costs—it occupies an 8,500 square foot space—but he still blames the store's downturn mostly on digital music. Over the past few years, sales got so low that the dance room had to close, and soon after the the shop stopped selling new music altogether. "We just can't turn people onto new music like we used to." Though he thinks Record Time might have survived in a smaller space, he doesn't see himself setting up a new location. "Maybe I'll miss it, maybe I won't. Right now it's just not in the works."
Record Time will remain open until (around) March 10th, and at the moment all of its stock is 75% off.
"It's tough to let go," says Himes. "Record Time was such a huge part of my life, and a lot of other people's lives... We provide a service that will be missed."