Electric Kitsch sparks downtown record shopping

by Cam Kerkau, managing editor, and Jack Rechsteiner, arts and entertainment editor.

Electric Kitsch sparks downtown record shopping
Electric Kitsch is one of the mainstays of downtown Bay City.

A vintage boutique that deals with items that are old or unusual, Electric Kitsch specializes in selling records, clothes, sound equipment, and household items. They also offer guitar and electronic repair from old to new. Located at 917 Washington Avenue, Electric Kitsch has been under the ownership of Jessica McQuarter and Jordan Pries since June 22, 2012.

“I still can’t believe that it’s going to be five years in June. It blows my mind that I’ve been doing it this long. I thought we’d do it for like two years and that would be it,” Pries says.

The store is a modern entrepreneurial success story. Pries was living in Mount Pleasant and attending Central Michigan University when he met McQuarter, who was living in Bay County at the time. Pries was working at B’s Music and he talked constantly about his dream.

He was passionate about music and guitars and he just wanted to be in business for himself, so after they met McQuarter pushed him to follow those dreams saying “Why don’t you just do it? I mean what have you got to lose? Borrow some money and you do it. If you fail you fail, and if not then you’re living your dream.”

Pries and McQuarter wrote the business plan together at the Alice and Jack Wirt Library in downtown Bay City. McQuarter was a supporter of opening Electric Kitsch downtown because she has always loved the area and at the time there was a surge of new businesses opening like Populace Cafe, now known as Harless + Hugh, and Chan’s Garden.

“Everyday I feel like this is where I was meant to be, you know? We’re both really happy to be here and doing this in Bay City… It feels kinda right that we’re here,” says Pries.

For Electric Kitsch, the past five years have been about growing and figuring out what works.

The store morphed into what it is now gradually. Electric Kitsch carries all the classic records one could ask for as well as bringing in new pressings every week. They post on their Facebook page every time they get a new shipment in and it spans every genre from indie like The Black Keys to punk and metal to jazz and soul to rap and EDM with everything else in between. The used records usually range in price from a few dollars up to ten or twenty dollars.

“We tried out a lot of different things, but the record thing was popular and took off so we just expanded on that. You find out what’s popular, what sells, and you do that,” says McQuarter.

That personal touch is what sets Electric Kitsch apart from many other record stores, or just stores in general, and it’s what makes it such a hot spot. It’s important to Pries that Electric Kitsch feels like a place where people can be friends and make friends. Pries aims to have Electric Kitsch be the very opposite of corporate and impersonal stores where you don’t really know anybody.

“I want to be friendly and talk to everybody. Get to know what they dig. People that open up, I can be like ‘Oh, this record came in that you’ll dig.’” says Pries.

The people coming into Electric Kitsch cover a wide demographic, from younger vinyl revivalists to folks stopping in looking for their old favorite records. A lot of the customers who come in, walk in with a smile on their face and Pries greets them at the door by name like old friends.

James Colpean, 22, a resident of Saginaw, prefers Electric Kitsch over any other record shop. Since he began frequenting the store in March of last year, his record collection grew from six to 97.

“It’s the selection, it’s the people you meet, it’s the people who work here,” says Colpean.

Electric Kitsch recently underwent a hefty remodel and it now features much more record browsing room than it offered before. The walls are lined with sleek, green record holders similar to those found in other music stores, with the exception that Electric Kitsch’s were locally made. There are also two rows of vinyl to peruse in the middle of the room with clothes and kitschy pieces placed throughout the space in different spots. Even for those without an interest in purchasing vinyl, Electric Kitsch offers a wide and interesting variety of vintage clothes and curious knick knacks.

Electric Kitsch will be hosting a local music show on Feb. 18 featuring Bay City’s very own Vital Sea as well as other acts from around Michigan. They will also be celebrating the annual Record Store Day on April 22.

Electric Kitsch is located at 917 Washington Avenue and open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and closed on Sunday except for special events.

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