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Former pharmacist follows dream, opens record shop in Eastown: 'Surreal'

There's a record shop opening on Wealthy Street this Friday, and the story behind it makes it that much more unique.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A new shop is opening Friday, filling a hole in the Eastown community and fulfilling a lifelong dream for one Grand Rapids man. 

“It's surreal, I would say that," said Kevin Romanyk.

Romanyk was a pharmacist for 30 years.

“For me, it was a very rewarding career," he said. "I helped a lot of people of which I'm very, very grateful for. "

He recently decided to call it a career, and shift to somewhat of a passion project.

He says he's always been a music person. 

“It's the one kind of hobby and passion that just always followed me through life," Romanyk explained. "I just really gravitated to music had a love for music."

He believes music is a powerful thing. 

“Music creates the soundtrack of our lives," he said. “It's true that a melody can bring back a memory.”

One day, six months ago, he stumbled upon the perfect real estate opportunity.

“I took that as a sign it had to happen now," he said. 

He is now the proud owner of his own vinyl shop right on Wealthy Street.

“I can't believe it actually happened," he smiled.

He chose a name to reflect the old and the new — Vinyl Alchemy

“Subconsciously, might have been a little influenced from pharmacy,” he said.

While his current and past life couldn’t seem further from each other, he says they’re similar in more ways than he expected.

“Many years ago, a social hotspot in the community was the local pharmacy," he explained, "much like a local record shop is."

Romanyk says he's got records for any type of music — he's even stocking more unique requests, like metal and '90s British pop.

Before you ask — no, he doesn’t have a favorite.

“It's like, which one is your favorite child? Right?" he said.

He says the pandemic is the root of the vinyl resurgence. 

“After 2020, there were so many things that were taken out of our hands, and it's nice to have something real in your hand and have that experience and vinyl does that for you," he said.

"There's nothing like putting out a vinyl, opening it up for the first time, putting it on the turntable and then enjoying that with a loved one."

Although he wants to see a crowd on opening day, Romanyk would be thrilled to have one interested customer.

"We can just talk music if nothing else," he smiled.

He’s just happy to be able to wake up and smell the pickles in his new life.

“I can do that all day. And I will," he said.

Vinyl Alchemy will open its doors for the first time at 11 a.m. Friday morning. It's located at 1505 Wealthy Street SE. There's a listening station inside where customers can try before they buy. 


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