The revival of the Third Street corridor in Muskegon is well underway with the opening of Third Coast Vinyl in October 2016. Owned by Pete Pretzer, best known for his work in the ’80s as a musician in the band Jim Jones and the Kool-Ade Kids, the store brings new and used records, as well as refurbished stereo equipment, to residents of West Michigan.
Pretzer, once a teacher of Fruitport Community Schools and Muskegon Community College, hopes that avid collectors and beginners alike will feel welcome in his new location. One can anticipate a collection of classic rock, soul, funk, newer indie releases and hidden gems galore.
Pretzer spoke with Revue on Muskegon’s rebranding, opening Third Coast Vinyl and changes in the vinyl industry.
Why take on this project, and why in Muskegon?
I’ve always been involved in music my whole life. I was a working musician for 28 years and I used to work at a record store, Believe in Music, and I’ve always wanted to do that. But when you’re in a band, you don’t start a business. I went back and finished my teaching degree instead. I reached a point where I wanted to do something for myself.
I feel like Muskegon is going through a lot of the renovations that Grand Rapids has gone through in the past couple of years, specifically in the Cherry and Wealthy street district. I wanted to be a part of building something here. One of the things the area is trying to do right now with the Neighborhood Association is to rebrand the neighborhood.
Who are your customers?
I tend to think people who are hardcore collectors don’t need me as much. They know how to find the thing they are looking for online. I’m looking for the person that isn’t just coming in for business. When I was younger, the record store was somewhere I went to hang out — look through the bins, listen to people talk about music. It’s kind of where I learned about a lot of that. I wanted to create a music community, not just a record store. The best quote I’ve heard was when I opened. A girl was in for an hour, she was working her way through the bins, and she turned and looked at me and said, “I forgot how therapeutic this is.”
What sort of collection are you trying to curate for your customers?
|Third Coast Vinyl
1115 3rd St., Muskegon
I wanted to make sure, no matter what you like, you would find a gem. So I’m all over the map right now. I didn’t want to commit to one direction until I had a better idea of who is coming in and buying stuff. Muskegon has a long history of metal and punk. I knew I would have that and it would do well.
Other than that, I wanted to see what people wanted. There are lots of people from a younger generation coming in and asking for things I listened to: The Cure, Siouxsie and The Banshees, etc. I pride myself on knowing that you can come in and find a great obscure funk jam or a punk piece.
In the past five years, there has obviously been a resurgence in the vinyl industry. Why do you think this is?
You know, younger people didn’t miss (record shopping) because they didn’t have it — that being the tangible feeling of having something in your hand. I know people that are buying records that don’t have players yet because so many of them come with the download cards. But, they like to feel like they’re buying a product. There’s still something about going in and looking, the process of discovery, that can’t be found online or with digital streaming.
Do you believe this “vinyl renaissance” is putting pressure on musicians and designers to create something more than just music but perhaps a piece of art as well?
Now, the packaging is beautiful, far more than when I was young and records were the main thing. Somewhere in the mid ’70s to ’80s, they just went cheap on everything. You can take a record from the ’80s and make it wobble — it was too expensive to create good product. Now, 180 gram vinyl is almost standard, when it was a specialty before. If someone is dropping $24 for a record, they expect it to be something special.
Just for fun, what are your favorite releases within the past five years?
My favorite, and you could pick any one of their three albums, is Phantogram. I love how they’ve grown over their three albums. I love Shovels and Rope. The last two albums by Two Door Cinema Club were great too.