Just off the University of Wisconsin campus, a retro record store sits on the corner of Monroe and Harrison Street. The store is immediately striking from the outside because of its vibrant colors and brightly colored lights.
The inside of the store is equally nostalgic. The walls are covered in old vinyls and CDs, with shelves and stand-up racks throughout the room.
But the store doesn’t end on the main level. After exploring the vinyl selection upstairs, customers can walk down the store’s stairs, the walls of which are covered in old newspapers and retro art. In the basement, the space is tightly packed with rows and rows of more CDs, vinyls and even a few cassette tapes.
On its 35th anniversary, Strictly Discs announced on Facebook that owners Ron and Angie Roloff had sold the store to new owner Rick Stoner in early November.
Angie Roloff said they love the store, but they are excited about the transition.
“We take a lot of pride in what we’ve built and we’re very happy with what we’ve done and we’re excited for somebody else to continue that legacy,” Angie said.
Ron founded the store in 1988. He and Angie met in the store, later married and have owned the store together for the past 22 years. Angie said they never had kids, so the store is almost like their baby.
When asked what her favorite part of the business has been, Angie said it is definitely the people. She pointed out that their business does not sell needs, but wants, so people value what they are buying. She and Ron say they have met a lot of their best friends through the store.
“You do get to meet some extraordinary people in this town,” Angie said. “So we’ve been blessed by that.”
Many of the store regulars are sad to see the Roloffs go, Angie said. But customers are reassured knowing that they plan to stick around Madison and will still be involved in the store when they can be. They hope to rest a bit after officially leaving in January, but know they won’t ever totally leave the Strictly Discs community and store.
Angie said another factor that is helping them to move on easily is the transition to a new owner. She said they are confident Stoner will be a good fit for the store. The Roloffs took their time with the hiring process and Angie thinks he has a lot of relevant experience.
Stoner said he was not specifically looking to own a business in Madison. But when he got connected with Strictly Discs, he was “ecstatic.”
Stoner is from Wisconsin and attended UW. He was a journalism and communication arts major and wrote for The Badger Herald ArtsEtc. section in 2005. He said that Madison changed his life.
“An excellent university and community like Madison just opens your mind and frees you to think and exposes you to people from completely different walks of life,” Stoner said.
Stoner said he did not want to acquire a startup, but was excited about stepping into an already successful business. He knew about Strictly Discs already, because he had visited the store during his time as a student.
Stoner already loves the job. He said it is exciting to meet the regulars and work with the staff.
When asked about what he hopes for Strictly Discs in the future, Stoner had a few additions in mind, but wants to focus on maintaining the current success of the store.
“We’re a national destination for the quality of our inventory,” Stoner said. “We get people from all over the country.”
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Stoner wants to focus on the customer experience and a positive environment in the store. He has three things in mind looking ahead to 2024.
First, Strictly Discs already has a warehouse in Cambridge, a city east of Madison. Stoner said he hopes to open the warehouse up for retail in June.
Second, Stoner plans to explore experiential marketing and try different ways of bringing products to customers. This could mean attending festivals or offering pop-up sales throughout the year.
The third goal Stoner has is a bit more long-term. This goal involves creating a subscription-based record club that would mail records to people who pay a certain amount every month. Stoner said this could expand the store’s reach outside of Madison and around the rest of the country.
Stoner is excited to be back in Madison and calls his taking over the store a “Madison love story.” He pointed out that two of the people investing in Strictly Discs with him are friends he met in college.
“The people that you meet when you’re in college could very well change your life,” Stoner said. “And you never know what’s gonna happen.”