Caveman Vintage Music
Every morning before work, Eric Stollsteimer wakes up with his wife, makes a pot of coffee, and puts on a record. “There’s nothing better than putting on that needle, hearing that little bit of crackle,” he said. “It just feels good.”
In 1996, Stollsteimer’s passion for records and vintage instruments led to the creation of Caveman Vintage Music in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The store would set out to collect some of the most iconic tools and sounds of the past for a new generation of musicians and listeners. After eleven years of continuous growth and expansion, Stollsteimer was faced with a difficult and unavoidable decision. “The economy was so rough in Michigan at the time,” he said. “I thought it was a good time to come out here.”
As the surrounding economic conditions began to pressurize in 2007, Stollsteimer packed up shop in Ann Arbor and made the move out west to Chinatown. Since its relocation, the store has been in a state of increasing growth and refinement. “We love how diverse [Chinatown] is,” said Stollsteimer. “With the restaurants, the other businesses. . . it seems like it’s getting more and more diverse every year.” Nearing its five year anniversary in Chinatown, Caveman Vintage Music has made a name for itself among big-name musicians and casual hobbyists alike. It has created its own culture and become a hub for those seeking unique products that aren’t available at most of the larger, commercial music stores.
“This is a lot more interesting to me than selling mass produced stuff,” said Stollsteimer. “There’s some stuff from Japan, America, Sweden. Instruments from all over the world.” The interior of the store is filled with a wide selection of vintage instruments, records, and other various inventory. From the first mass-produced model of the electric guitar, to a vintage piano signed by the great Billy Preston, a walk through Caveman Vintage Music will always leave the customer surprised. “What I love about working here is that it’s always interesting for me,” said Stollsteimer. “I’ve been doing this for twentysome years now and I still see things, almost on a daily basis, that I’ve never seen before.”
Despite ever-changing technology in the world of music, vintage instruments and records have continued to stand firm against the test of time. The sustenance of Caveman Vintage Music is a promising testimony that the sounds of the past will not be silenced for quite some time. As the company continues to increase sales of vintage instruments and records, Stollsteimer remains hopeful for the success of his business. “We sell guitars every day,” he said. “It’s not like rock-n-roll is dead by any means.”
Michael P. Flynn