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Grand Rapidians on spins and needles as new local shops celebrate first Record Store Day

Grand Rapids embraces Record Store Day as new stores debut, attracting vinyl enthusiasts seeking exclusive releases and celebrating physical music in a digital age.
An array of records leaning against each other in display.

An array of records leaning against each other in display. /George Wietor

A purple Della Soul Records neon sign hangs over a display set out in the shop.

A purple Della Soul Records neon sign hangs over a display set out in the shop. /Rosie Accola

After several new record stores opened across Grand Rapids in 2024, vinyl enthusiasts flocked on Saturday to hunt down their favorite albums, both vintage and contemporary, in celebration of Record Store Day.

The inaugural Record Store Day, which honors independently owned brick-and-mortar record stores, kicked off on April 19, 2008. It has since evolved into a major nationwide celebration, with several U.S. cities even sanctioning it as an official holiday. Artists like Death Cab For Cutie and Sabrina Carpenter use the occasion to release exclusive Record Store Day releases, drawing in crowds looking for limited editions.

While we are inundated with music every day via streaming services and TikTok, Grand Rapids’ eclectic community of vinyl collectors and enthusiasts still takes time to appreciate the medium’s tactile nature.

“People love something physical. There’s an exclusivity to owning a piece of art from the musicians you love,” said Brandon Copeland, owner of Grammotones, in an email interview.

Grammotones, located at 120 South Division Ave., opened in February as a space for artists to record music and sell their merchandise. While it’s not exclusively a record store, Copeland specializes in soul and funk records.

“I was motivated to showcase those genres because the music, the clothes and the accessories all complement my lifestyle,” Copeland said. “I want to share that.”

Grammotones, which also offers a curated selection of vintage clothes participated in the “I <3 Recycled Art” shop hop in the Heartside neighborhood and hosted a fashion show Saturday evening in addition to Record Store Day activities.

Della Soul Records, located at 1220 Kalamazoo Ave. in Grand Rapids’ Southeast neighborhood, also opened in early 2024, spurred by owner and DJ Della Marie Levi’s love of music.

“Record stores are a dope vibe,” reads Della Soul’s website. “The stories behind the brick and mortar. The people. The music. The décor. The feeling I get when I enter one and dig through the crates. The love I receive when I visit one. The good energy, the good vibes. Pure magic!”

Record Store Day as an organization has specific requirements for participating stores, and Della Soul Records did not meet the full-time hours requirement, which would have granted them access to official RSD programming.

“We decided to do our own thang,” Della Soul Records wrote on Instagram, announcing their own celebration of Wrecka Stow Day on Saturday, named after the 1986 Prince film “Under The Cherry Moon.” Festivities included DJ sets from DJ Della Soul, storytellers, as well as perks like an expanded record selection and exclusive discounts on records and sweatshirts.

Marking its grand opening on Record Store Day, Black Dog Books and Records, located at 959 Fulton St., celebrated its inception as a self-described radical leftist books and records store, offering a vast selection of vinyl and used books.

Black Dog owner Bill Morris said the appeal of vinyl relies on the transition from passive to active listening.

“During [the COVID-19 pandemic] lockdown, we had time to enjoy activities we once viewed as passive and reconnect with the physicality of art. We realized we had time to be active in our listening and that we had time to engage with physical media again, at least with music,” said Morris in an email interview. “The digital revolution made listening a passive action in my eyes, something you just put on in your headphones and log in to work, answer your emails and [play an] endless playlist that you don’t have to engage with. I think this is where the real vinyl rejuvenation came from. COVID lockdown created a new appreciation and opened a new way to spend leisure time.”

To celebrate its grand opening, Black Dog held an art and zine market in the back of the shop along with live vinyl DJ sets from DJ Joe Moon. Shelves and crates were packed with books and records while the line to check out wound around the store space.

“Growing up, I collected a lot of CDs, but I think physical media as a way of preserving history is really vital,” said vinyl fan Dean Hollowell, who attended the Black Dog opening. “I also think things like B-sides, you can’t really get the same satisfaction on Spotify or Apple Music.”

Disclosure: Brandon Copeland, mentioned in this article as the owner of Grammotones, serves on the board at the Grand Rapids Community Media Center (GRCMC), which oversees The Rapidian. Our editorial decisions are not impacted by Copeland's position on the board at the GRCMC.

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