LIMA — For more than 25 years, Groamy’s CD’s and Tapes has not only been a place known to buy music and other forms of entertainment and accessories, but also a space that has helped local musicians grow their talent.
When owner Gene “Groamy” Frueh opened his shop in 1992, it was attached to the old Igloo Drive Thru and Carry Out on 2000 Elida Road, with only about 80 square feet of space. After several location changes, he now has approximately 2,400 square feet at his current store on 1206 W. Robb Ave.
Size is not the only transformation that Groamy’s has experienced over the years. When the store opened, he mainly sold records, tapes, CDs, VHS tapes and video games.
Since 1992, he has expanded his inventory to include posters, T-shirts, stereo equipment, books, magazines, guitar accessories, DVDs, cassettes and various other vintage items.
Records are his biggest sellers with the largest average consumers being between age 18 and 22. He has seen record buyers as young as 10 years old and as old as 60.
“A lot of people my age and a little older are going back and rediscovering the awesomeness of vinyl,” he said. “For every one CD I sell, we sell 20 records.”
Even though records are a big seller now, that was not always the case during what Frueh describes as the “digital download age.”
“For a while, it was tough because everyone was downloading their music,” he said. “But I read in a study that within the last seven years the only increase in purchasing music has been vinyl and even purchasing digital downloads has dropped.”
He believes people should invest in physical copies of music because there are so many benefits with purchasing music at a store.
“I never understood it anyway,” said Frueh. “If you buy a music download for $14 what do you have to show for it? In the case of a vinyl its a physical item and you get a poster and a cover, which in itself is artwork.”
Despite downloads causing some stores to go out of business, he has managed to thrive because of his specialty items, service, uniqueness and the love and passion for what he does, he said.
“I tell people all the time that what keeps me in Lima is not just Lima, it’s the region and places like Toledo, Dayton, Fort Wayne and Columbus,” he said. “I even have a guy who comes a few times a year from Chicago to purchase items, and man it’s a great feeling.”
Aside from the music he sells, Groamy’s is known for its free local, national and international band performances. Bands with members as young as 15 even come to play at his record store.
“I’ve had bands that have toured the world, had Grammy-winning musicians play on their albums and one group that is going to record at the Grand Ole Opry,” he said. “The niece of the man who started the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, recording studio also played here. Artists like The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, the Black Keys recorded at that studio. I want to let people come in and see things for free, and you may discover your new favorite band.”
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews