After nearly three decades as a haven for music lovers, will close its doors at the end of September.
Owner Bob Setlik said he and his wife moved to Valparaiso, Ind. about four years ago, and managing the used record store from a distance has gotten to be too much.
“For me, it’s time. I’ve kept it going 22 years. I’ve done my thing and enjoyed it,” said Setlik, 69, in his typical soft, collected tone. “It’s a service to people who like this kind of store – a lot of them have showed up in the last few weeks.”
Before Car City Records closes, it is selling off its remaining inventory at vastly reduced prices. Over the last several weeks, the store’s white cement brick walls have become less crowded with music posters and album covers. The rows of records, meanwhile, are diminishing with every day.
In 1989, Setlik and two partners – both of whom he’s since bought out – purchased Car City Classics from founder Peter Dale.
“We were younger,” Setlik said. “We were able to build it up basically, but that takes a real mental, physical and somewhat financial investment you don’t make as you’re moving on in your age.”
Car City Records is what Setlik calls an “all-inclusive” store, carrying a variety of mediums: 78s, 45s, CDs and cassettes. Among its customers, the shop's staff earned a reputation for their wide knowledge base about the multitude of musical categories offered there, including pop, classical, jazz, R&B and more.
“What I didn’t know, the other employees knew,” Setlik said. During the last 22 years, he employed more than 25 staff members, most being musicians.
When asked, Setlik said the decision to close had nothing to do with the advent of digital music.
“All record stores lost the younger crowd … six, seven, eight years ago,” he said. “It doesn’t really affect any decision I made.
“Obviously I’ve been here a long time. I’m approaching 70; I’m not going to be able to spark up and re-energize a store. That’s for some younger person. Things could be done, but you need younger blood with a lot of energy.”
Not all "younger" music fans have forsaken record shops.
Nineteen-year-old Evan Elston, of St. Clair Shores, started going to Car City Records with his dad as a youngster. As he got older, he began coming back on his own to browse for vinyl punk and ska records.
“When I got my record player, I came here and started buying old records; most of them are cheap,” Elston said, adding Car City Records was “one of the last local places I can go to find actual records.”
Greg Blankenship, 53, of Roseville, also lamented the store’s imminent closing. He has been a frequent customer since it opened in the early ‘80s.
“One thing about places like this, you might be coming to look for a certain thing, but you always find something else,” he said. “That’s the appeal, … you walk out with surprises.”
On Sundays, Blankenship routinely browses Car City Records and other used record stores.
“Now I don’t have anything to do on Sundays anymore because they’re closing all these places down,” he said.