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Local business owner talks about building a successful record store

Finders Records

In 1971, a 19-year-old and ambitious Greg Halamay sought out to start his own business. Although he didn’t know it at the time, Finders Records, a business that he started on a whim, would soon grow into a 42-year-long career of hard work, dedication and an uncanny love for music.

Originally from Akron, OH, Halamay spent his youth engulfed in the retail record industry. He spent much of his high school years working in a warehouse for his father, a musician and heavy participant in radio promotion and sales.

When Halamay came to the University in 1971, he was working on roughly five years of experience in the record industry.

Although Halamay was a liberal studies major and he had never taken a business class before, his five years of previous experience and dire need for a job propelled him to start his own business. Conveniently, when Halamay came to Bowling Green, there was only one store that sold music: an instrument store for students who came to the University to study music.

To both his dismay and delight, the store had a poor selection for the fast and upcoming hotbed of music that was the 1970s. In September of 1971, Halamay opened Finders Records for the first time, with aspirations of offering a better selection of music to Bowling Green’s growing demographic, as well as making a successful name for himself.

“I was young, I was under-financed, but I did it,” he said. “It was just kind of a natural fit.”

Working six to seven 12-hour days a week, and with a little help from his father, Halamay soon began to see his business take off.

In 1975, Halamay opened his second store in Findlay, Ohio. He opened a third, located across from campus and two more stores in the Toledo area during the early 1980s.

However, because of sporadic business at the campus location and a financial recession of the 1980s, Halamay soon realized that running five separate stores was more trouble than it was worth.

“I kind of came to the conclusion that I wasn’t having as much fun running five stores,” he said. “So I cut back to two stores and promised myself to not open another one until I had improved the original two.”

Halamay has since put all his effort into his main store, as well as his Findlay location until it closed in 2007 due to the worst flood of the Blanchard River in over 100 years.

Although Halamay was only renting a single room of one building in his original location at first, in 1975 he bought and put a large hole in the wall in the building on his left, a gift store called Little Pleasures that had gone out of business.

In 1997, Halamay did the same to the building on his right.

Halamay spent years renovating the three buildings, knocking down walls, repainting the front of the buildings and expanding to the numerous floors above—anything he could do to make the store look like a unitary set. Halamay now owns the property and even rents the upper floors as offices and art studios.

Today, Finders Records plays host to a virtually endless collection of vinyl records, CDs and movies. Although it took a long time to get where it is today, Halamay said he attributes the store’s success and ability to survive in a digital age to the store’s focus on music, as well as a “niche of selectivity.”

“My philosophy that started from the beginning, is carry something for everyone,” he said. “If you want a Johnny Cash record, and we don’t have it, we’ll find it for you as long as it’s available.”

Additionally, although legal and illegal downloading has nearly destroyed all other configurations of music, Finders has recently seen a tremendous spike in the demand for vinyl records. The store stepped back into vinyl records roughly 10 years ago and has seen a 5 percent increase every year for the past five years.

“With the resurgence of vinyl configuration, I think the younger generation is getting turned onto the true beauty of listening to a physical product, which is a phenomenon in its own right,” Halamay said.

Finders Records has survived if not thrived due largely to Halamay’s hard work and selfless willingness to put a large portion of his money back into the business, but he also attributes his success to years of dedicated and passionate student employees as well as a fun work environment.

Store Manager Laura Fredericks, a University alumna, spent much of her time in college going to Finders, and, after living in Toledo for the summer after she graduated, she returned to Bowling Green at the right time and the right place. Fredericks was hired and has been working there for the past eight years.

In that time, Fredericks said she has seen an extremely diverse group of customers come in on a daily basis, from local customers to those out of state. She attributes the store’s now large popularity to Halamay’s ability to keep up to date with what’s hot.

“He’s always rolled with the times,” Fredericks said. “It’s really important to listen to your clientele and we do that really well here.”

Like most who have worked at Finders Records, Fredericks loves her job and said it is the best job she’s ever had, which she credits the philosophy of a fun but focused Halamay.

“It’s a super-laid back environment,” she said. “We work hard, but we play hard too.”

Halamay said the fun work environment and the music business’s constant fluctuations have kept him going. Although he isn’t sure of how much longer the store will be open, Halamay said he may eventually sell the store if the right buyer came along.

Now, coming up on its forty-third year of business, Halamay said his time as a business owner of the historic downtown Bowling Green’s music library has been nothing but challenging, rewarding and fun.

“When I reflect on it, 42 years is a long time,” he said. “But it went by quick.”

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