East Lansing’s Flat Black and Circular reopening Monday

Owner Jon Howard can’t wait to get back to doing what he loves: Selling records


SATURDAY, MAY 30 — After months of surviving by selling obscure records to collectors using the website Discogs, Flat Black and Circular's John Howard said that he’s looking forward to reopening the store Monday. If lockdown continued for any longer, Howard was worried that he and the store would run out of money.

“We don’t take many days off, so we were OK with being shut down for a while. But if it was six months, it might have been a problem,” Howard said. “If there’s another resurgence of the virus, things might get a little scarier financially.”

To prepare to reopen safely, Howard has been studying what methods other stores used to stem the spread of COVID-19. He has also been studying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order, just to make sure he’s not breaking any laws.

“Got a bunch of hand sanitizer and masks, gonna put X’s on the floor, put up signs telling people not to come in if they feel sick,” he said. “I think we’re gonna keep it to a dozen people at a time maximum in the store”

Unlike the Record Lounge in REO Town, Howard said that FBC has no plans to book customers by appointment, “as long as I keep the amount of people in there to a minimum.” Howard said he would enforce social distancing personally.

“It depends on how many people show up. But I think I would just tell extra customers to wait in the hallway until it’s safe to come in,” he said.

FBC’s hours of operation will also depend on how many people show up. For now, Howard said that the store will stay open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The shop used to stay open later on Fridays, but unless he sees the demand from customers, Howard said that he will discontinue those late-night hours indefinitely.

Some folks dread going back to work, and some are looking forward to it. Howard said that he lies firmly in the latter camp. As a self-described workaholic, he said that his time in lockdown has been boring, tedious, even depressing at certain points. Without the store to keep him busy, he had nothing to do but read his collection of gothic horror books, practice the guitar and surf Netflix.

“Personally, I can’t wait to get back to work. I hate sitting around the house,” he said. “I was going a little stir crazy. No, a lot stir crazy.”


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