So it's a Saturday afternoon and I'm cruising down East Lake street, making my weekly (or so) pilgrimage to Hymie's Vintage Record store. I'm about two blocks east of my designation and I get this 'brainstorm'...An article about Hymie's! Now to me, this old record haven has got to be one of the most precious haunts our Twin cities has to offer. Here I am in front of this old building, hosting the coolest graffiti - mural artwork you will see in the city. I need to follow up on this idea or at least see what 'the powers that be' think of it. The first two powers are Auralee Likes and Julie Wellman, the new owners (last June) of Hymie's. I've talked to these young (thirty and twenty-seven years old respectively) vinyl experts every time I stop, so lets see how this 'brainstorm' will play...music to my ears = A GREAT idea! I let them know it's only 'my' humble idea and I need to check it out with power number three - Ray Stiles, the guy who helps make all this happen (somebody should write an article about him). My e-mail reply reads, "A GREAT idea." All is very cool here...let's do it.
Our community was hard hit with the passing of Jim 'Hymie' Peterson, this stores founder and name sake, last Feb.16. At age 56, Hymie subsumed to liver failure. Most local (and out of town) vinyl collectors were well familiar with Hymie and his Vintage Record store. Located at 3318 E. Lake St., Minneapolis. the store has quite a reputation, not to mention winning City Pages "Best Of" three years ('95-'96-'97) running. Much was said and written about Hymie Peterson after his death...I'll touch on some of this for our readers who are new to this man and his vintage record business. The name Hymie evolved out of a high school Spanish class when Peterson took a liking to Jaime, the Spanish version of his name. To keep things simple, the spelling was changed to Hymie. He started collecting records at age 14. Hymie was born in Minneapolis and after moving around some, relocated here in the mid 80's. Shifting his record collection from the trunk of his car, the store opened in 1988. In no time this was known as "The Place" to find rare and hard to get vinyl. Hymie covered it all...Jazz, Blues, Rock & Roll, Rockabilly, Country, Pop, Soul, R&B, Classical and, well just about all recorded music... All this at a Fair price. The store carried all format's - 331/3's...45's...78's...reel to reel...cassettes...eight tracks...CD's. You needed to check out the book selection, the sheet music, the videos, record sleeves, bags and various other music memorabilia. You could always find Hymie 'standing post' behind the counter, smoking, drinking coffee and spinning those sweet sounds.
But wait...my objective here is not so much to morn the passing of Hymie but to celebrate his legacy - Hymie's Vintage Records, which is very much alive and kicking. Check it out for your self. Take that ride down East Lake street. See the graffiti - mural artwork, enter the store and take the five steps up and two steps to the right...listen to what's pumping out of the turntable...take note of the vintage posters plastered all over...look at this room full or 45rpms...lots 78rpms...eight tracks...cassettes...books...pictures...videos...CD's and...see...how cool is this place? If you have spent the better part of your life (like I have) scouring through record bins, always looking for that special lost platter and talking to other "junkers" about a certain song or artist, this place is a feast for sore ears. Every time I stop in, I express my gratitude to Auralee and Julie for keeping the music alive and playing. I asked Julie just how this came about. She told me...Auralee and herself were working at a factory job
and became friends. Julie first stopped by Hymie's one day and found him sitting behind the counter clutching a baseball bat. It seems the store had been broken into the night before. She bought a 78rpm by 'Julia Lee and Her Boyfriends', a 30's hot jazz band. Peterson was so impressed at her selection that he asked her to work at the store...but only after she "took a test" on her knowledge of music, artists etc. from different decades.
Well, she must have passed the quiz because she started working half days and on Sundays. Julie had planned a trip to India when Hymie started to get sick with gallbladder trouble. Auralee took over for Julie, who was out of the country for 5 - 6 months. Hymie died from liver disease. Julie returned...suffering from culture shock...the loss of Hymie...what’s going to become of the store and just what to do? Auralee became the driving force here...no one was coming forward to buy the business...time was running out. The girls made their move and finally secured the loan (from a female banker, remarks Auralee) and...all I can say is "thank you ladies!"
So now what? Well almost every time I am in the store someone brings in a box or two of records they are trying to unload. Customers are browsing or looking for some specific find. I check out the books or maybe a piece of sheet music. Here's one for you...Are you old enough to remember the Trash Men (Surfing Bird fame)? Well, Tony Andreason, their lead guitarist and singer, stopped by one time when I was there. He needed some 45rpm sleeves and said "I didn't know where else to look." How cool is that, in the good reputation department? I still need to focus when I come here. I want to look at every thing at once. The girls say that is not uncommon. Some customers stick to one format - maybe a 78rpm. Some buy one of each format. Some customers take their time, get the feel of the place and return later to make their purchase. I have never came here and left empty handed. When the future of the store was unknown, Toots (my bride of 32yrs) asked me "what would you do if you won the lottery?" I answered at once " I'd buy Hymie's and just sit there all day and talk and play the music and not change a thing." Well I never did win that lottery and the store is in more than capable hands. There is help from Auralee's brother Eric - he handles the electronic type work and Julie's India trip companion, Christy Mulligan - she's the 'bean counter.' They talk about some changes upcoming (an outside face-lift...yeaks...the graffiti - mural art work?) But fear not, this is no white, sterile mall music store. Hymie's Vintage Records has real soul and the people who care for it are soul people. This store is open seven days a week. Monday through Saturday, 11:00am - 7:00pm. Sunday, 1:00pm - 6:00pm. There is also an independent record co-op downstairs from Hymie's.
If you are into vinyl, you NEED to be into Hymie's Vintage Records! The inventory here is excellent and if you need sleeves, bags, etc. for you current holdings...you got the right place blues fans. Find that piece of music you have been looking for...treat yourself to an hour or so at Hymie's Vintage Records. The Ladies know their music and can answer your questions...if by some rare chance they are struck for the answer, I'm betting one of their customers will have it. Stop by one time...you'll be back.
Hymie's Vintage Records
3318 East Lake St.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Al Rohweder, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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