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For the record: Vertigo Music

Local record store connects past and present through passion for vinyl.
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Vertigo Records Hours and Location

Monday - Friday: Noon - 9 PM
Saturday: 11 AM - 8 PM
Sunday: Noon - 6 PM

616 742 5106
129 Division Ave S
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-4215

/Ben Villar

/Ben Villar

This article was written by Ben Villar, Itza Suarez, Mikaela Chambers, Lexi Rice, and Matt Nortier for EN 102H: Digital Literacy at GRCC.

She vigorously washed her hands, then washed them a second time just to be sure they were clean. Her fingertips were raised to eye level to guarantee that they remained sterile. With the care of a brain surgeon, the girl gently removed the ebony vinyl from its withered sleeve. She had recently adopted the album from Vertigo Music, a store dedicated to providing music to all of Grand Rapids. Since June of 2000, Vertigo Music has been giving used records a new home.

Vertigo is structured as if it where a miniature library, lined with row after row of entertainment media. On one side of the store, bins filled with vinyl border the aisle ways. The genres expand indefinitely from hip hop, to funkadelic to the blues. Even “dubstep” records are available, an up and coming music style that can only be described as a brother-genre of Techno. The rows of vinyl seamlessly fade into Vertigo’s CD collection, which surprisingly accounts for the majority of Vertigo’s inventory. Eventually, the rows taper off into a tiny collection of DVDs, VHS tapes, and the long-forgotten cassette tapes. But why invest in such outdated technology, when the digital era is so readily accessible?

For some, little can compare to the intimacy that records bring to the music experience. For this reason, vinyl has seen an increased popularity amongst younger generations over the past few years. Katie, a loyal Vertigo customer, declared that “the resurgence of vinyl has been kick ass!” Her enthusiasm for records is shared by the store’s owner, Herm Baker (or simply Herm, as he is called by Vertigo customers). Herm claims that vinyl simply produces a better sound. Music enthusiasts and casual listeners alike seem to be catching on to this bit of knowledge, as the store’s success continues to increase. “I see nothing but growth,” Baker asserted firmly. And for good reason, too- Vertigo offers a variety of products that fit just about anyone’s musical taste.

For many, the satisfaction lies in the history behind the record. Several of the records sold at Vertigo were bought and used decades ago. In this way, vinyl can provide a direct connection to the era in which they were originally released. Others enjoy the process itself, savoring the intimate care that is required to keep records in prime condition. Ultimately, all vinyl enthusiasts have a tender spot for the joy of simply shopping for new records. “I can’t really remember when I started coming here,” one customer reminisces. “I just remember my dad bringing me when I was a little boy.” The employees at Vertigo share the same feeling of connection to the store. 

When Baker himself cannot be present, any of the workers are able to provide knowledge, advice or opinions to their customers. Superiority is non-existent; in fact, the employees appear almost excited to stumble across first-time record users. Among the workers, the passion for music is almost tangible. Taking all of this into consideration, Vertigo Music exudes one key trait that speaks to everyone: The customers and employees mutually share a deep, unequivocal passion for music.

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