As much as I would love to see Chris Edmondson’s Spotify Wrapped, the mere concept would likely horrify him. As owner of Mi-Rural Records in Grand Ledge, Edmondson is decidedly committed to the analog and the self-curated. A 35-year veteran of the music business, Edmondson, who previously conducted business online and at record shows around the state, fulfilled a long-held dream of operating a storefront when Mi-Rural opened its doors in October of this year.
“My inspiration was to have a shop that brings the community together through music,” Edmondson said.
The store, which occupies about 500 square feet on Grand Ledge’s lovely Bridge Street, boasts a diverse and ever-changing selection of vinyl, concert DVDs, band t-shirts and more. You don’t have to spend too long in the shop, though, to see what really makes it special. While I familiarized myself with the shop’s selection, a customer walked in, and he and Edmondson proceeded to greet each other warmly and start chatting like old friends.
After presenting the customer with a record he’d been able to locate, Edmondson turned to me and, returning to a question I’d asked earlier, said, “That’s what I specialize in.” Explaining further, it turns out that “old friend” had wandered into the shop a mere two weeks ago. In that time, Edmondson had gotten to know his new customer’s tastes and hunted down a record for him.
“That’s someone I call a friend now,” he said with a shrug. “Every day, people stop in to dig through racks and have a chat. That is truly a large part of my life and business.”
It’s clear that Edmondson, seeing his customers as friends and fellow community members, takes great care in both procuring and maintaining his inventory. He only purchases used records in good condition, puts each through a very fancy-looking cleaning device and play-tests everything.
“It’s the old-fashioned sales and service you want and expect,” he said.
With his history in the business, Edmondson’s knowledge is encyclopedic, and it shows in the distances record hunters have traveled to see what treasures Mi-Rural might hold.
“In the two months we've been open, I've had visitors from Greenville, Chesterfield, Flint and Indiana,” he said.
With the multiple stories he told me of his efforts in tracking down rarities for his customers, it’s clear Edmondson is also happy to go the distance.
Edmondson, who named The Stooges as his favorite band and Kate Bush as a current preoccupation, explained, “This is a place to come browse the racks in search of that lost classic while enjoying the album currently playing on the house system and having engaging conversations with like-minded individuals.”
I would say his vision is fully realized. I was so content talking to Edmondson and his friend/customer that I was late for my next appointment. Worth it, though — I have lots of new bands to check out.
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