rss icon

Sunday, 20 December 2015 23:37

Q&A: Herm Baker, Owner, Vertigo Music

Written by 
Rate this item
(5 votes)
Herm Baker Herm Baker

As owner of Vertigo Music, a new and used music store on South Division Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids, Herm Baker has weathered tectonic shifts in how people listen to music, not to mention major changes to the commercial landscape in the surrounding Heartside neighborhood. Within one block of the store are multiple homeless shelters as well as upscale restaurants and other new retailers. Baker spoke with MiBiz about the trends he’s witnessing in the downtown retail market.


What are you seeing in terms of trends for downtown Grand Rapids retailers?

We have lots of things coming and going in the neighborhood. The thing is that it always ebbs and flows and that changes the dynamic of the block, too. I think the future is that we’ll see more and more of that kind of thing.


Are you feeling the pressure of rising rents?

I think we’re safe in term of rents going really high, on this street in particular, because of (the homeless shelters in the area). I heard part of the reason (some businesses have decided) to move is their customers are uncomfortable in this neighborhood. … For us, I think it’s going to be more of the same and I think nothing but good things in terms of continued growth down here.


How do master planning efforts such as GR Forward affect a store like yours?

It matters absolutely. We need more density of people living downtown. (Our clientele) are the urbanites — people who live in Eastown, Heritage Hill and then down here, and then people from the suburbs coming in here.


How has that clientele changed over the years as the neighborhood has evolved? 

Dads are bringing their 15-year-olds in here to buy some records. That’s the big new difference here: My customer base is changing. It’s not necessarily because of the neighborhood, but it does help to have people here.


What’s the outlook for the music store business like these days, especially with the growth of vinyl?

It’s thriving. We are up 35 percent this year, and it’s all because of vinyl. There’s no store in West Michigan that has 22,000 new LPs. The plan is to grow to 30,000 and then 40,000 — if space permits. But we’ll make it fit. The used CD business is still really good and the used DVD business is still really good, but you’re giving the stuff away for $3 to $5 each, which is fine. You can still make money on it. We are actually in better financial shape now than we have been in 10 years.

Interview conducted and condensed by Nick Manes.

Read 3260 times Last modified on Monday, 28 December 2015 10:30

Breaking News

September 2018
S M T W T F S
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 1 2 3 4 5 6

Follow MiBiz