From classic rock to local bands, the Record Lounge lets customers indulge in their love for all kinds of music. Combining her own love of music and long experience in retail, owner Heather Frarey first opened the shop in East Lansing in 2008. This made her the first and — to this day — only woman in Michigan to own a record store, and the only Mid-Michigan store to sell all-vinyl records. Since first opening, the Record Lounge has been in three locations, most recently settling at 111 Division St. in downtown East Lansing. It sits between the State News and the colorful city parking garage. The approximately 1,000 square foot shop is relaxed; its walls decorated with copies of posters designed by local artists. There’s a listening station where customers can preview music before they buy it, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, Frarey can special order it for you. Once or twice a month, a local band or individual musician performs live at the shop. “I want the Record Lounge to be a place where people feel comfortable,” Frarey explained. That’s how she came up with the name “lounge;” it connotes relaxed. The store sells new and used vinyl and new and vintage stereo systems. It also has DVDs, headphones, posters, books, music magazines, collectibles, such as handbills from shows from the 1970s and 80s, a few 8-tracks and much more. “We also have the best and largest local music section in the area,” Frarey said. They even reuse scratched and worn vinyl and make coasters out of them for sale. The shop appeals to older and younger customers alike. Although a good majority of customers are Michigan State University students, many come from the greater Lansing community and as far away as Saginaw, Mt. Pleasant and Jackson. When she first opened the shop, Frarey knew what she was doing thanks to her long history in the record business. She went to work for Warehouse Records in 1979 as a graduating senior fresh out of Everett High School. Working her way up through the years, Frarey eventually becoming a buyer. When the record store went out of business in 1996, Frarey pursued a different line of work. She became a dental assistant for an East Lansing dentist until injuries she sustained in a motorcycle accident prohibited her from being on her feet for long periods of time. So, she turned back to music. “The only thing I knew was music,” said Frarey, adding that she knows her “stuff” about the business, too. At first, she worked out of her home, buying records at estate sales and record shows. But she eventually opened the store because “I like the retail atmosphere,” she explained. To this day, Frarey still loves it. She runs the shop with help from a couple of clerks and the constant support of her family, husband Bill, son Christian and daughter Tiffany. A Lansing “native,” she and Bill have lived in DeWitt since 1993. Through the years, her collections have grown. The biggest sellers are classic rock, but she also carries indie rock — popular among college students — and soul, jazz, reggae, “a little bit of everything,” she said. On Jan. 2 of this year, the Record Lounge celebrated their sixth anniversary. “With hard work, dedication and lots of moral support from my family it has turned out to be a very cool shop (if I do say so myself),” Frarey wrote in a Facebook entry. “2014 will be a great year, and we will continue to bring in a lot of new vinyl as well as hard-to-find used, also vintage stereo equipment and lots more to come.” One of her goals is to update the website and offer online shopping. Whether you’re looking to buy new or vintage records from classic or local artists, or have items to sell, you’ll want to visit the Record Lounge. Their hours of operation are: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The Record Lounge 111 Division St., East Lansing (517) 862-1976 therecordlounge.net
Ann Cool, MPS, is a freelance writer who lives in Mason with her husband Bob.