Andrey Douthard had a vision of starting a record store and label. At 28, he’s another one of the Detroit-epreneurs that is trying to make something go in a city where it’s not always the easiest. We caught up with him at their opening, and this is that interview with minor edits for clarity.
Daily Detroit: How long has Paramita sound been in the making?
I started the project back in January. I work at the D:Hive; it’s one of my jobs. I went through the D:Hive Build program. This is like post-formal education. I went to school at a place called Full Sail University for music business.
It started in D:Hive Build, went through that process. At the end of that program, there was this competition that came up for this space, called Activate 1417 Van Dyke which was a program that was put on by the Villages CDC, Practice Space, and then the landlord, here, Alex Howbert, that also was a co-owner of Detroit Institute of Bagels.
I’ve also, at this point, began being a part of a program called Retail Boot Camp at TechTown, and just now becoming a client in the SWOT City program there as well. Now, we’re open. That puts us at about 10 months.
Daily Detroit: You mentioned some other names that are known in Detroit’s revitalization, whether it was the Build program, or the Detroit Institute of Bagels. How much is the network effect important to the kind of things that are starting to pop up around the city?
No pun intended, but it really does take a village of people, or an organization, especially when most entrepreneurs like myself … we’re trying to start businesses with no money. How do you do that? We’re actually in a city where that’s kind of a norm. There’s a large business entrepreneur ecosystem of support that’s happening in the city, with all these organizations.
It’s out there. You just have to be able to kind of attack those things, and use it to leverage into better opportunities. From the point that I started, for example, there’s people like the Detroit Development Fund that are actually funding businesses that are start-ups.
I’ve met with those people in D:Hive Build. They sat on panels in the Activate 1417 Van Dyke competition. I’ve had one-on-one with these people now in TechTown retail boot camp. There’s an ebb and flow of what happens when you grow. As a young entrepreneur, you’re always showcasing where you’re at, what you’re doing to develop your business, what steps you’re taking. I think I’ve ran the gamut as far as organizations in the city. I’m trying to touch everything. It means everything.
You can’t really do it … I couldn’t run this store and I couldn’t open this store without the kind of collaborators that I have involved now.
I’ve got the doors open. Now, it has nothing to do with me anymore. It’s really about collaboration with this community, and with all the kind of people that are a part of this store now.
Daily Detroit: Why a record store?
A few reasons. The big gap a far as music in the city of Detroit proper would be that there’s no place to buy new vinyl. I don’t think there’s a person in our store that doesn’t shop at Hello and Peoples [other record shops in the city] currently. There’s no place if you want to buy new records, you have to go to Found Sound or UHF, and you have to leave the city. That was a big calling card to say, “Hey, there’s a lot of people that leave the city to buy these records,” or painstakingly buying them on Amazon, just because of convenience. That was one reason.
I also always wanted to do a business that brought people together. I go to a lot of bars locally, and the interaction between bartenders and being a regular someplace. It’s a real community aspect to the things that I wanted to do. What better way to bridge the gap in communications, than have music be the platform?
People want to be able to have that personal, tangible experience with music again, at least a certain music listener does. It’s just not available in MP3 format, so that really helps. The resurgence of streaming services and MP3s, they’re revitalizing the record industry or the book industry.
Since 2008, you’ve seen almost close to 200 percent growth in the format. That’s not just because people are starting to enjoy vinyl again. Vinyl has never gone anywhere. Pressing plants haven’t stopped pressing records. What’s happened is, people want that art. They want that cover. Obviously, vintage is in. Nostalgia is something that’s heavy in the younger community, but when you walk into a store that I’ve seen today, I’ve seen everything from 40-year-old men, to 12-year-old girls, to 28-year-old kids, basically. It’s a rainbow of people.
Daily Detroit: For the uninitiated, somebody who maybe is into records and kind of curious, what are the number one and number two reasons to come here to check this place out?
You’re never going to find a thousand records in this store. We’re a five person staff, and everyone has their genre. It’s highly curated. It’s the kind of place where you can kind of go through every record, and you’re not going to pull a bad record out of a crate; at least that’s our goal. It might not be your taste, but you’re not going to say that this is a bad record.
Everything’s alphabetically ordered. It’s not like you’re going to go to a jazz section, or a hip-hop section, or a rock section. You’re going to hit Black Sabbath. You’re going to hit De La Soul. You’re going to hit a Foxygen record. You’re going to hit some new SBTRKT album, right after you get past The Smiths. You’re going to find an eclectic mesh of things. They are definitely going to speak to the people that you meet here in the store.
Daily Detroit: Your team does have a lot of passion and energy. Any closing thoughts?
It doesn’t work without collaboration. I’m kind of overwhelmed with all the support that I’ve got. People just want to be a part of something. The same thing with me; I started because I want to be a part of something that was bigger than myself. Same thing with all these people; they have all these projects. Anna’s doing a ‘zine, and Peter’s a DJ, and these kids are in school. Some of us are working on our own music projects. Everybody just wanted to be a part of something together.
You’ll find Paramita sound at 1417 Van Dyke in the West Village Neighborhood of Detroit and online at http://www.paramitasound.com/