One of the Twin Cities’ best-loved record stores is for sale, but the owners are pledging to sell it only to someone who wants to keep the music spinning there.
Dave and Laura Hoenack, who bought Hymie’s Records in Minneapolis nine years ago, want to spend more time with their two kids. So they are fielding offers to sell their vinyl specialty store, located on a revived stretch of East Lake Street in south Minneapolis.
They are not interested in just liquidating their stock of vinyl records, however.
“I want to still be able to go to a neighborhood record store in my own neighborhood,” Dave Hoenack said.
In 2010, the Hoenacks moved the shop five blocks east, from its crumbling original location to the current site at 3820 E. Lake St. They happen to live nearby, which is one reason they want to see the Hymie’s tradition carried on — one that includes strong local music, classical and children’s sections, a much-loved “difficult listening” bin and the most popular Record Store Day party in town each April.
Named one of the best record stores in the country by Rolling Stone in 2010 and specifically mentioned by Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz of the Beastie Boys in a 2005 Star Tribune interview, Hymie’s originally opened in 1988 as a maze of bins run by eclectic collector Jim “Hymie” Peterson.
Two of his employees, Auralee Likes and Julie Wellman, took over after he died in 2000 and ran it successfully for nine years before selling to the Hoenacks. The couple's purchase required a leap of faith at the time, considering the deteriorating state of the old building as well as the still-shaky stability of the record business in the digital era. Not to mention, neither Hoenack had any experience in retail or as a small-business owner.
With their children now at ages 9 and 10, Dave Hoenack said, they are feeling the full brunt of just how much time and dedication it takes to running a store like theirs.
“We want to be able to go Up North with the kids in the summer and take family vacations, which is just something that’s hard to do as a store owner even when you have great employees,” he said. Hoenack formerly worked in public schools and will likely return to that line of work, as will his wife.
He emphasized that the store has been doing well amid the revitalization of vinyl record sales: “We’ve obviously been able to support our family off it,” he said. “I really don’t see any reason the business won’t continue to grow.”
The neighborhood around Hymie’s has grown, too. Since moving next door to Blue Moon Coffee Shop, Hymie’s has arguably helped revive the stretch of Lake Street that now includes restaurants such as the Sonora Grill, Hi-Lo Diner and Peppers & Fries, as well as the Dogwood Coffee Bar, Longfellow Market and other new businesses.
“I’d like to think we maybe had a little something to do with the turnaround,” Dave said. “But no matter what, it’s been great to be a part of it, and great to run the store as long as we have.”