Follow the sound of music in East Lansing and eventually you’ll find yourself at Flat, Black and Circular (FBC). The record store, located on East Grand River Ave. above Action Board Shop, is a music lover’s dream; the walls are lined from floor to ceiling with records and music posters from every era. Crates full of music are stacked waist-high on the floor, and music plays while customers peruse the store’s selection. It was owner Dave Bernath’s passion for the music industry that motivated him to open Flat, Black and Circular 38 years ago. At the time, Bernath had a business partner, but is now the sole owner of the store. “I got into this business because I like music,” said Bernath. “It also helped supplement our music habit when we started. I get to listen to music all day and talk to interesting people about music that they like.” FBC specializes in selling different types of records, from 45 RPM records to new and used CDs; they even sell the occasional cassette tape. Music magazines, record supplies and Discwasher record cleaners are also sold in the store, as well as used audio gear and music memorabilia. With almost 10,000 records available in the store ranging from old school blues to new techno music, there’s something available for every taste in music. Many of the vinyl albums in the store are from new artists or are copies of popular albums. “People think that vinyl went away at some point,” says Bernath. “But that’s not true. There’s been vinyl coming out for many different artists and albums.” FBC also buys vinyl from people interested in selling their collection, and if the collection is large enough, they will come to the seller’s home to take a look. But Bernath is very selective in what he buys for the store; he won’t buy scratched and tarnished records. The store has a reputation for only selling quality used products. “We check all of the vinyl that people bring into the store and make sure that we only sell quality,” says Bernath. To ensure that the records are good quality and the customers are getting the best products, a testing station is also available in the store for any opened music. This allows customers to listen to albums to check the quality of the disc before purchasing it, or just to listen to make sure they like the album before they make a decision about what to buy. “Some people just grab a stack of random albums and go through the whole thing looking for new music,” says Bernath. With a variety of music available, almost anyone can find a new favorite album at Flat, Black and Circular. It’s a great place for music lovers to shop, listen to their favorite tunes or just hang out. Visit flatblackandcircular.com for more information.
Kyle Dowling is an employee of M3 Group and is pursuing a writing degree at LCC. He enjoys fiction writing, video games and movies.