Back in 2006, entrepreneur Ted Wilson opened Replay Entertainment Exchange and offered a new take on traditional record stores. Alongside vinyl, DVDs and CDs are stacks of other used media, including video games and accessories. It’s well-curated pop culture haven on the edge of Old Town.
Over the years, it’s moved around a few times, across a few parts of town including Lansing’s Eastside and downtown East Lansing. Since 2015, Replay has been in its Old Town location (at the old Capital Harley Davidson location), but recently it’s needed serious roof repairs that made a difficult time even more stressful. Wilson chatted with City Pulse about how Replay is combating this unexpected problem and challenges presented by the pandemic.
There’s FBC, The Record Lounge and your shop—which is a bit different. How would you describe Replay?
Replay is more of a catch-all physical media shop, we don’t restrict what we carry because we know that our clientele will tell us what they’re looking for, and there are still a lot of movies and video games that folks are looking for. With streaming services ballooning in popularity and specific service and studio centric, it costs more than ever to have access to everything you may want to watch on your smart TV. Frankly, not everyone wants to pay a monthly fee to have their favorite movies at their fingertips, and that’s why a used store like ours makes it more convenient to have your favorite titles in your collection.
I understand there were problems with Replay’s roof and ceiling, how serious were the problems?
Ted Wilson: The roof problems exacerbated the ceiling strength from the inside. It was the water damage from the leaking roof that weakened the interior ceiling to the point where entire sections were collapsing. The repair problems were largely Covid related. We were not the ones scheduling the work, as that was done by our new landlord, Michigan Community Capital, who is currently redeveloping the Temple Club into apartments while preserving the historical significance of the building. Unfortunately, there were a lot of factors beyond their control while trying to schedule the work to get the building safe and perform a much-needed facelift. There were Covid delays with the work crews to maintain their safety, and with such an old building, every time a layer was peeled back, there were more things that needed to be addressed and it just takes time. We planned on being open by the end of 2020, but waiting an extra over three-plus months put us behind schedule, both for the work to be completed on our end after the initial construction, as well as financially behind. It made the t-shirt fundraiser necessary.
To raise funds, you’re selling shirts via your other company Michigan Shirt Works, which prints in the back of the building. Why did you go that route instead of a Kickstarter?
Times are tough, and that’s not an understatement. We understand the fatigue associated of seeing everyone with their hands out looking for help, and that not everyone is in a position to help everyone via charity. We happen to be in a very unique position that we have a universal product we can sell to anyone: custom t-shirts and apparel. Everyone wears t-shirts, tank tops and sweatshirts, so instead of asking for a donation, we’re asking folks to buy a shirt or sweatshirt from our catalog of popular designs. They can pick it up when we reopen, or we’ll ship it to them for free. We want to earn our bread, and since our t-shirt printing business is slow because of Covid, we thought selling t-shirts for our fundraiser would be a great option, and make our reopening campaign different from typical GoFundMe campaigns. We just started the fundraiser last week, and hope to run it for a month and reach our goal of 1,000, or more, t-shirts sold.
When do you hope to have the repairs done? When will you reopen?
The repairs are now finished, but we still have a ton of work to do in laying down the new carpet, getting our signage back up, rebuilding the fixtures and putting the store back together. Ideally, we’re hoping to reopen the middle of April. We are very grateful to be a part of this community. Everyone’s support during the last year of wanting to see us reopen, plus the participation of our community during our outdoor events last summer, were a very special time for us. We’re in a great position to be a member of the Oldtown and Lansing community for years to come, but with Covid, we’re in a precarious position, so everyone who chooses to buy a shirt from us to help us to reopen, we can’t thank you enough.
Replay Entertainment Exchange is located at 536 E. Grand River Ave. Lansing. For more information, visit facebook.com/replayarmy, and to buy a shirt visit jollymitten.com.