Thursday, June 4, 2020

Hymie's Vintage Records


Well, this post took long enough to write.

I had planned on visiting a number of record stores in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. There were several that I used to frequent in the 1980s and 1990s and I wanted to see which ones were still in business.

What I remember as Hymie and Hazen's was on Lake Street in South Minneapolis and that store has morphed into this version, pictured above. It's a fantastic improvement, to be totally honest with you, and I love what the store has become. Adam is the right guy to run the place. I remember the old owners and what it was like to stop in and browse through the stacks back in the good old days. The store is a little more organized now and is friendly in a way that the previous incarnation was a bit "diffident."

A record store has to seize onto something weird in order for it to have the kind of magic that keeps you coming back. I don't know what other retail establishment could do in order to accomplish that. There has to be something in the racks that you find and grab onto and buy immediately. Every great record store that I've been in, I've found something that blew my mind and that was that.

Really, this store is now the equal of any in the country in terms of vintage vinyl. In many ways, their selection dwarfs that of anything here in the Mid-Atlantic region. It's a keeper, it really is.

I think that if you're going to survive in this game, you have to have a cafe or ready access to food and a place for people to sit down and absorb the atmosphere. I know that the trend has been to cram as much product as possible into the smallest possible footprint because of overhead and operating costs, but someone really needs to study the business model for a modern-day record store and help figure this out. Because I had other stores to visit, I couldn't stay as long as I wanted. Now I regret that.

This was going to be the first stop in Minneapolis. I had plans to move on to the Uptown area and I visited Hymie's in the early evening hours of May 26th, 2020.  This photo was taken after I left. The time stamp is just after five PM.

Fast forward through one of the most harrowing afternoons I can remember. You could see crowds beginning to gather. You could see people carrying signs. You could see everything coming together and I don't think I've ever experienced that before.

When I left Hymie's, I headed down Lake Street. You could see the way that the protests were starting to emerge after the death of George Floyd the day before. I could see people beginning to assemble in the area of Lake Street and Hiawatha, another area that I remember from over 30 years ago when I lived in the South Minneapolis area around Cedar Avenue and 36th Street.

You know the rest of the story. The city, and the country exploded in protests and unrest. I missed it by mere hours, and was on the road home to Maryland the next morning.

Some day, I do promise to visit Hymie's and see if I can find a few more treasures. I hope they are still there and I hope to continue the tradition. What happened was far more important than my trip down memory lane. Social change is happening, and the events of May and June 2020 are more important than anything I could have written about here.

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