The 411 on all things RPM can be found inside the REO Town Marketplace.
Although filled with an eclectic mix of boutique and vintage shops, visitors might be caught unaware when they come upon one particular storefront dedicated to a specific item from a throwback era.
It’s true that vinyl records now outpace CDs in sales, but they still harken back to a time when the clicks and pops of the medium were a sign of the limitations of the technology instead of a resurgence of nostalgic interest.
The Record Lounge inside the REO Marketplace is an oasis for spinning discs that when placed on the proper device are, quite literally, music to your ears. At the helm of this gem — the Lady of the Lounge, if you will — is a casually dressed and unassuming woman sporting custom-made Converse Chuck Taylors showcasing the store colors, which were a gift from her two children who both currently reside in New York City. If she’s not placing stock, you’ll find her hunched over a computer doing research or placing an order.
Heather Frarey has a long and varied journey that led to her becoming that matriarch of music.
Her aural ambitions began at Wherehouse Records, where she worked from 1982 until the store closed in 1996. She then found employment as a dental assistant for several years; yet the music still called its irresistible siren song.
Life eventually led Frarey to meet Ted Wilson, the owner of Replay Entertainment Exchange in Old Town Lansing. After some discussion, they worked out an arrangement for her to sell vinyl in his store. Business was booming for Frarey, and she soon started her own store in East Lansing on Jan. 2, 2008. Mostly collectors of metal, punk and indie bands frequented the store when she first opened, but a change in ownership of the East Lansing location forced her to move to REO Town. Initially, Frarey was upset about the move, but the change and uprooting turned out to be in her good fortune.
Now at her third location in REO Town, people are enjoying the new atmosphere of Record Lounge and feel free to — appropriately enough — lounge in the space. Her customer base has grown to include fans of pretty much every musical genre.
Frarey speaks about dealing in records as more of a way of life than a business. The Record Lounge has grown into being a destination spot for people to begin or continue their vinyl experience. She said people enjoy the tangible aspects of owning a record. It is the physicality of being involved with the music: putting a record on a player, dropping the needle into the groove, flipping the record and reading the liner notes. It is an enhanced experience when compared to a digital download.
Visitors are always encouraged to stop in and say hello. At first, Frarey may seem shy. However, her passion always shows through eventually, and she has a way of figuring out what gets you excited about music. Even if she is not familiar with what moves you, she’s quick to find what’s going to get you spinning.
Did you know?
The first phonograph records were made from shellac, which was noisy and did not last very long.
The first vinyl record ever created was by RCA Victor in 1931. It was a 12-inch vinyl recording of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra performing Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony.”
The bestselling album of 1967 was “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by the Beatles, which sold 250,000 copies in the first week in the U.K. alone.